HR & Staffing Productivity

Six bad habits of leaders and ways to overcome them

Evan Goodman
Written by Evan Goodman

Managing a business is difficult, especially during these challenging and complex times. Leaders guide their teams toward their company’s vision and should create a positive future in the face of adversity and negativity.  A good leader will drive business growth and success.

Leadership is not inherent, it is developed over time. Managers with bad habits can drive down workplace productivity, efficiency and team morale.

These habits are destructive mental traps that limit an individual’s ability to be an effective leader. Being aware of them will let you take corrective action and become a better leader.

The six bad habits and their remedies

1: Ego

You have come this far because you are good at your job but you are not an expert on every subject. The bigger your ego gets the less in touch you will be with your clients, company culture and employees.  Hubris twists values and warps perspectives. Managing the ego’s craving for fame, influence and fortune is every leader’s primary responsibility.

Effective leaders know that while they are experts in particular fields, it is not their own expertise that makes them valuable but rather their ability to bring out the best in their employees. Leaders direct and empower employees. The purpose of leading a team is to leverage individuals strengths towards common goals.

  • Work with, support and develop a network of people who do not feed your ego. Hire smart people who are confident enough to speak up.
  • Cultivate humility and gratitude by reflecting every day on all those who contributed to your success.  You will understand that you are not the only one responsible for your success.

2: Not delegating

Some leaders take on as too much work for themselves and don’t delegate. While this may reduce stress for your employees, the reality is both growth and productivity of individuals and the group as a whole suffers. If you are inclined to fix every problem, you are depriving your team members of a chance to learn.

How to delegate

  • Start with an awareness of your habits and evaluate how your actions impact your team members. If there is an environment of trust, your employees will be able to tell you how your overworking is hampering their productivity.
  • You learn to delegate over time. Work towards making positive changes and be explicit about the tasks that you will no longer handle so that your teams can take up these responsibilities instead. Communicate clearly so that everyone is on the same page.
  • Leaders don’t need to have all the answers. Create an environment where the exchange of information and ideas is encouraged.

3: Rejecting bad news

Punishing employees for giving you bad news can be disastrous. Employees may hesitate to tell you the truth if they are afraid of a bad reaction.

This can rob you of the opportunity to fix a problem before it blows up into something huge.

How to handle bad news

Instead of getting into a panic mode on hearing the bad news, remember that you do not have to solve the problem alone. Rather than overreacting to unpleasant news, rewire the response by thanking the person for letting you about the problem.

4: Negativity

Pessimism and effective leadership do not go hand in hand. If your response is always negative your team will not come forward with new ideas.

Research indicates that a positive attitude is linked to business success and that positive teams perform better than negative teams.

How to move towards positivity

  • According to Jon Gordon, author of The Power of Positive Leadership, optimists have changed the world. Pessimism is a temporary state of mind, so work on cultivating optimism.
  • Focus on solutions rather than problems and lead your team with vision and optimism. Keep pointing your team towards a brighter, positive future irrespective of current circumstances.
  • Positive leaders are positive communicators and make others feel encouraged. Listen to your team members and welcome new ideas.

5: Simplicity

Effective leaders need to work well in complex situations. However, some leaders deny or overlook the complexity of certain problems. They may undermine the seriousness of problems by having diplomatic meetings where gray areas are not touched upon and uncomfortable discussions are avoided.

Use complexity to spark debates

Instead of brushing problems under the carpet, face them head-on by initiating meaningful conversations around them. At the end of meetings, challenge your team to come up with different perspectives and solutions to tackle the issue at hand.

Encouraging debates can generate multiple solutions to capitalise on the complex situation.

6: Indecisiveness

Slow decision-making will hurt your whole team. Also known as analysis paralysis, indecisiveness is linked to thinking too much and intellectualising excessively. Leaders may be indecisive because they are playing it safe.

Overcoming analysis paralysis

  • Be realistic about the project’s scope and determine what information you need, who should get involved, and how much work needs to be done. This will help you understand if you need more information to make the decision.
  • Evaluate and establish clear criteria that need to be met for you to make a decision.
  • Consult other group members and experts to make a case for your decision.
  • Set a realistic timeframe or deadline to make the decision.
  • Collaborate with your team to get consensus on the decision instead of imposing a direction so that the group as a whole can take the decision.

Positivity, humility and the ability to inspire teams are just a few characteristics of a great leader. The good news is that while nobody is perfect, you can take steps towards becoming a successful leader.


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About the author

Evan Goodman

Evan Goodman

Over the past 30 years, Evan Goodman | Business Coach has founded numerous ‘start-ups’, built them into successful businesses and gone on to sell them. He has experienced and overcome most of the common challenges faced by business owners and leaders and understands the pressure and stresses that running a business can cause.

He also recognises the value and importance of getting sound advice and support when faced by these common challenges and of being prepared to openly discuss issues with a coach or mentor.

Since building up his last business into a national company, and selling it in 2009, Evan focusses on coaching SME business owners on how to become business leaders. He has a Masters of Business Coaching degree UOW; creating a unique blend of experience, expertise and coaching best practice for his clients.