Sometimes, in order to keep moving forward, leaders tend to only focus on the positive. They often sets aside the importance of recognizing their wrongdoings or weaknesses for core business tasks. However, leaders who are more aware, willing to reflect on their behavior and the leadership qualities they exhibit with an open mind, can become better leaders moving forward.
According to Mike Malone and Cindy Mascheroni, there are 7 bad leadership qualities that CEOs should avoid. And to help you identify whether these tendencies show up in your leadership style, there are 3 questions that you need to ask yourself.
# 1: What fears dictate some of my decisions?
# 2: What’s one step toward humility that I will make today?
# 3: What could I have done differently?
To help you put these questions into context, let’s go through the 7 bad leadership qualities you should avoid.
1. You’re oblivious to your weaknesses
Leaders often feel confident that they understand their own strengths and weaknesses — however, when it comes to our own shortcomings, it can be hard to identify.
Sometimes, flaws can be obvious to others, except for the individuals themselves. This can happen because acknowledging weaknesses requires humility and self-awareness — which may not come naturally for everyone.
This is where a regular feedback loop (or feedforward) along with a 360 assessment can be useful. It will help leaders identify behaviors that hinder you from leading effectively and allow you to take actionable steps that can help transform your behavior.
2. You don’t own up to your mistakes
Unlike those who are oblivious to their own mistakes, these leaders are aware of their own shortcomings — they are just unwilling to acknowledge them.
Many leaders fear being seen as weak because of their mistakes, lack of skills, or lack of knowledge. What’s worse is they often place blame on others and don’t hold themselves accountable for their own actions.
The problem with doing this is that this can quickly become a negative habit. You tend to feel like you know everything and often do not take advice or learn from anyone else — because you believe that you’re always right.
In reality, pointing fingers will not amount to anything. However, when a leader is brave enough to admit their weaknesses and mistakes, their employees will grow to trust and admire their courage to own up to their actions. The most important thing is how you can turn your mistakes into a learning opportunity for yourself, your team, and the organization.
3. You act like a bully
Leaders who act like a bully will often belittle, humiliate, and act disrespectful towards others — be it their employees or their colleagues. If it is not addressed, the leader will quickly establish a toxic workplace culture where employees will not feel psychologically safe.
This behavior leads to a decrease in employee morale, engagement, and productivity. A good leader is supposed to support, motivate, and lead the team to grow together and achieve the organization’s goal together. Bullies fail to gain the trust of the team to achieve that.
4. You don’t actively listen
There’s a difference between simply hearing someone out and actively listening to what they have to say — some leaders fail to understand the concept.
When employees feel that their leaders are not listening to what they are saying, they will become demotivated to engage in discussions in the future. They will feel that their ideas or opinions are not being valued, and therefore, they are not being valued by the company as well.
Leaders who don’t actively listen to their employees will miss out on a lot of opportunities. These may be opportunities to learn and improve, to build a stronger relationship with their employees, and to establish an open and positive work environment.
Here are several tips on how to improve your active listening skills.
5. You are indecisive
As a leader, one of the most important responsibilities you have is to make decisions. There are various factors that can impact a decision, and a leader should carefully consider the repercussions of their choices. Unfortunately, when faced with various choices with varying degrees of risk, some leaders can become indecisive — which makes them ineffective leaders.
When a leader is being indecisive, employees will be confused, because there is no clear direction and expectation from the leader. As a leader, it is important to understand that some decisions are not necessarily permanent — that you might be making the best decision at that specific moment with the knowledge you possess. Just remember to be agile in responding to the risks that come with your decision.
6. You act selfishly
Being a leader does not mean that your needs and desires should be prioritized above your employees’ needs. In fact, a good leader will go out of their way to take care of their employees’ needs first before taking care of theirs.
An empathetic leader who practices selfless leadership will be able to serve their stakeholders better and with humility. They will be able to build a trusting relationship that is essential to building a healthy culture that supports the growth and wellbeing of its members — helping them reach their highest potential.
7. You are not willing to keep learning
As a leader, you have a lot of things you need to do and a lot of people who depend on you. During busy times, it is easy to allocate your time to dealing with issues that are more urgent in nature instead of learning. This is something that every leader struggles with.
Great leaders understand the value of continuous learning and improvement. They embody this belief and translate it into real action — inspiring their team to do the same. This willingness to keep learning is something that every leader should work on, especially in today’s volatile business environment.