3 Bad Habits You Should Break To Become A More Successful Leader

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Everyone has bad habits. Attitudes and personality traits that hold us back from our full potential. Recognizing and breaking them is a critical step for anyone who wants to grow as a person. This is especially true if you’re pursuing a leadership role - here are a few of the most egregious ones every leader will inevitably need to overcome.

We all have bad habits. Attitudes, tendencies, and traits that do us more harm than good. Overcoming them is important for everyone – but especially for those of us who aspire to leadership roles. The first step in doing so is to recognize the specific behaviors that hold us back. Let’s talk about that. Here are a few of the most egregious tendencies that separate bad leaders from the good – and the good from the great.

#1 Step Out Of The Spotlight Effect

As human beings, we have this annoying tendency to ground our perceptions of how other people see us in our own perspective. We get caught up in self-conscious fears and are so busy worrying about how other people see us that we barely take time to think about how we see ourselves. This is such a common phenomenon that psychologists have even given it a name – the spotlight effect.

It’s every time you’ve avoided saying something because you were worried about sounding foolish. Every mistake played over in your head before falling asleep at night. Every opportunity you missed because you wanted to avoid embarrassment.

A leader needs to be decisive and self-assured. While they still need to consider the needs and desires of the people around them, they can’t waste time worrying about how people perceive them. It’s a waste of mental energy that would be better spent elsewhere.

Plus, it’s worth mentioning that most people likely aren’t paying any attention to whatever minor blunders you’re obsessing over. They’re too busy worrying about their own mistakes and waffling in their own spotlight. Bear that in mind whenever you start feeling self-conscious – everyone else is probably in the same boat.

#2 Temper Your Ego

No one can dispute that you’re good at what you do. You wouldn’t have come this far if you weren’t. At the same time, you do not know everything, and you cannot do everything.

One more time, for the people in the back: you do not know everything, and you cannot do everything.

An effective leader understands that while they might be experts in some fields, their expertise isn’t necessarily what makes them valuable. It’s their ability to bring out the best in the people they manage – to direct employees to where they need to be and help them thrive. They understand that they aren’t perfect, and that’s okay.

That’s why they have a team – so they can focus on their strengths and have someone to step in and mitigate their weaknesses.

Similarly, a good leader knows not to take themselves too seriously. The inability to laugh at yourself – to occasionally let people poke fun at you and to respond in kind – isn’t a sign of strength. Rather, it speaks to an ego that’s simultaneously massive and incredibly fragile.

An ego like that makes for poor leadership.

#3 Get Rid Of The Negativity

Ask anyone to describe the worst boss they’ve ever had, and it almost always comes down to one core trait – negativity. No one likes being around a negative nancy. Pessimists make for poor company and worse leaders.

Train yourself to always look on the brighter side of life – take an optimistic approach towards your team and your duties. Approach challenges and problems as opportunities to learn and improve rather than as roadblocks. And perhaps most importantly of all, even when an employee does make a mistake, don’t beat them down about it.

Hold people accountable for their mistakes, sure. You should sit down with an employee who has erred and work with them to figure out how they can do things better next time, doling out discipline as-needed

Most importantly, recognize and foster growth and success. Your job is to make your people feel important, valued, and meaningful. To care about them, and demonstrate that care in everything you do.

Because that’s what being a leader is about, at the end of the day – empowerment.

Closing Thoughts

Perspective. Humility. Positivity. These are just a few aspects of a great leader. By overcoming the habits that run counter to these personality traits, you can take the first step towards fostering them within yourself.



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