By Lolly Daskal
Many leaders don’t know—or don’t want to know—about the dumb things they do that drive their people crazy. Even smart, committed leaders have blind spots, and you may be needlessly frustrating and irritating people with unthinking behavior and attitudes. They may not be able to tell you about it, but I can: if any of these apply to you, it’s time to stop. When you do, you’ll benefit everyone in your organization—including yourself.
Stop talking over people. Don’t think that just because you’re considered a good communicator you should be doing all the talking or interrupting others when they’re speaking. The best communicators know that the most important part of the process is listening to understand.
Stop thinking you know best. If you think you’re usually the smartest person in the room, you have a problem. Great leaders surround themselves with people who are smarter than they are. A team of smart people will challenge one another, and you. Everyone will learn and grow, and your organization will benefit at every level.
Stop creating unattainable goals. Of course it’s good for your team to try and reach past their limits . But a steady stream of unrealistic goals adds pressure and unnecessary stress to the workday. People feel frustrated and distracted, and they give up pushing themselves toward something they know they can’t reach.
Stop trying to control everything. Most people value strong leadership, but they resist control. If you have smart, talented people who are willing to step up, give them autonomy and help them grow into leaders themselves.
Stop taking people for granted. Not just once or twice a year but on a regular basis, take the time to recognize people for doing good work, show appreciation for their efforts and commitment, and if necessary remind them that failure is part of success.
Stop the hypocrisy. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. Align your actions to match your words, and people will always respect the power of your example.
Stop imposing unnecessary rules. Where rules are necessary, they’re important, but when they seem arbitrary and make people’s lives more difficult instead of easier, something’s wrong.
Stop criticizing people in public. It’s one thing to disapprove of what someone says or does, but to publicly humiliate them is disrespectful. Give feedback that’s constructive and do it kindly and privately.
Stop trying to act alone. The best leaders know the power of collaboration. They understand the truth of the old adage: if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.
Even smart leaders can do dumb things and develop bad habits—what makes them smart is recognizing when they’re going astray and making the changes they need.
Lead from within: To be a successful leader, learn to minimize the dumb things you do and always acknowledge that you have things to improve.