Leadership bad habits are easy to fall into. Discover the top three leadership mistakes many leaders make in their business and learn to overcome them.

Leadership Bad Habits No. 1 – Doing Everything Yourself

How many times have I come across a leader who thinks they are leading by doing the jobs of other people? So many I have lost count! It’s just a leadership bad habit.

This happens for a number of reasons, the first of them is that the leader feels responsible for everything that happens within their area of authority. And, because they are responsible for it, they want it done their way every time.

The second is they do not have the confidence in their people’s skills to get the work done to the right standard.

Both of these traits stem from the need of the leader to exert control and authority over outcomes. This may be because they are perfectionists, afraid that other people will do the work better and make their role redundant, or even because they are afraid of the consequences to their job or reputation if things go wrong.

Either way, it’s one of the leadership bad habits you should work to change. 


Some leadership bad habits can be over come through basic training and empowerment. This frees the leader to lead. Running the daily functions of a department or section yourself is an enormous waste of your talents. Leadership is about charting a course for the future.

Trouble shooting the present issues is a task for good lieutenants in your team. If you don’t have them, train them or hire them. But the core problem to be overcome is getting out of the mentality that, unless you do it yourself, it won’t get done right.

Your job as a leader is to get it done right without having to watch it get done. Hiring the right people, training and empowering them is a process that can help you achieve that. This process isn’t a mystery either. Empowerment, like all other good management skills, is a set of steps that anyone can learn and practice to be a better leader and to overcome the first of the leadership bad habits.

Leadership Bad Habits No.  2 – Success Breeding Inertia 

So, you’re had a successful year, even a successful decade. Things have gone according to or better than plan. You have won awards, beaten sales targets and outstripped your competition. Great job!

While this is brilliant news, it is the root of a very dangerous leadership bad habit because it can also create the mentality of inertia – to keep doing what you’ve always been doing. This habit is particularly prevalent in leaders who have been in their position for a number of years.

The problem with success is that it is the enemy of getting better. It really shouldn’t be though – it should be its springboard. Some leaders, flush with success, simply believe doing the same things will always work but, of course, one day it will become less effective than it was.

In our modern world, the acceleration and volatility of change is increasing. This place additional pressures on leaders to become the agents of change and adaptability that will lead the business into new products or service and new approaches to their customers.


The best way to get over this leadership bad habit is to learn something new. Learning is the key to evolution of one’s mind, thoughts, actions and therefore our business strategy.

Bring in a corporate trainer for fresh ideas. Go on a course. Attend a seminar. Read a book. Find the activities that you enjoy that will bring fresh opinions and ideas into your mind and imagine how you can apply these things to your new work approach.

Without new ideas flowing into your mind, the tendency of succumbing to inertia is great and when we are successful because of the old ideas, the trend towards inertia is strongest.

The best way to overcome it is a consistent and planned set of learning activities that shift you to a new outlook, whether you like it or not!

Leadership Bad Habits No. 3 – Building Systems, not Relationships

What is leadership really? It is the technique of getting people to work effectively towards a common goal. This cannot be done through policies, procedures and standards alone. It involves building relationships that endure.

The Chinese have an expression that “The great leader goes last’. This doesn’t mean that they are cowardly, but that they are so respected by their team that the team rushes out in front to protect them from any hazards ahead.

This cannot happen without building trusting, respectful relationship with your team.

While being a great manager of systems and processes has its place in any senior position within a business, it is supplementary to the key role of developing relationships. It is a leadership bad habit to keep on using just this one tool and not realize that your team need a relationship, not a cop or a lawyer.

Sadly, many people in positions of leadership manage processes because they are better managers than leaders. Leadership is about character, first and foremost, so building the relationships necessary to sustain a camaraderie that far surpasses what can be attained through good management is essential if you are to overcome the third of the leadership bad habits.


The key to overcoming this leadership bad habit is to develop better relationships and to develop better relationships one must develop one’s own character. Of course, this is not something you can do overnight. It must be developed as a genuine and core aspect of who you are and what you mean.

You must learn to put your people’s needs first and respect their time, effort energy and abilities. Also, recognize the significance of being a role model. Practice being a giver of assistance and not just expecting it from your team.

Building great relationships means working on yourself and working on yourself is essential to be a better leader.

At the end of the day, better character, the root to building better relationships, will help any leader overcome all three of the leadership bad habits.

The author, Michael Paul Stephens is the founder of Provolution Consultancy, a Thailand-based corporate training business that helps companies build a better culture. His Leadership programs have helped dozens of leadership teams embrace a culture of evolution and growth.



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