January 18, 2007

The 20 Mistakes of Eager Leaders

Brand Autopsy points to an article in Business Week about the 20 Common Mistakes of Eager Leaders. The bold and italic is from the article. The regular text is my response and thoughts

1. Winning Too Much. The need to win at all costs and in all situations—when it matters, when it doesn’t, and when it’s totally beside the point. I believe that some things are not worth the cost they exact in order to accomplish them. I will not build a church and lose my family. There are also times to back away. Despite what many Christians think, not everything is an issue of life and death.

2. Adding Too Much Value. The overwhelming desire to add our two cents to every discussion. I do not have to give my opinion on everything in every situation. This happens to be my blog so it happens quite regularly here, but I don't have to give it to everyone.

3. Passing Judgment. The need to rate others and impose our standards on them. Guilty. This is an occupational hazard in the ministry. I find myself evaluating and rating on a regular basis. I especially noticed it as I watched the premiere of this year's American Idol. I am way to good at passing judgment.

4. Making Destructive Comments. The needless sarcasms and cutting remarks that we think make us sound sharp and witty. I have to fight hard not to be critical and sarcastic. Usually I do it for humor, but the thing with sarcasm is that you can hide your real feeling in them.

5. Starting with “No,” “But,” or “However.” The overuse of these qualifiers, which secretly say to everyone, “I’m right. You’re wrong.” Guilty. I do not need to correct everyone I feel is wrong.

6. Telling the World How Smart We Are. The need to show people we’re smarter than they think we are. There is something about succumbing to the judgments of others. Many leaders, myself included, feel the need to "not look bad" in front of others. I call it "Peacocking."

7. Speaking When Angry. Using emotional volatility as a management tool. Definitely a minus. Take time to cool off. You never say what you mean and what you should when you are angry.

8. Negativity. The need to share our negative thoughts, even when we weren’t asked. True. Keep your negative evaluations to yourself unless you are asked.

9. Withholding Information. The refusal to share information in order to maintain an advantage over others. I sometimes feel like I will lose some "edge" if I give away information or present it in a way that doesn't give explanation.

10. Failing to Give Proper Recognition. The inability to praise and reward. Give credit to everyone who deserves it. Learn to appreciate the contribution of others.

11. Claiming Credit We Don’t Deserve. The most annoying way to overestimate our contribution to any success. This goes back to #10. If someone else did the work, give them the credit. It will be a plus in the long run.

12. Making Excuses. The need to reposition our annoying behavior as a permanent fixture so people excuse us for it. I also think this is a symptom of irresponsibility. They are unable to admit they can't do something or that they forgot or that they messed up. It is scary to admit that you are wrong. I have done this way too many times.

13. Clinging to the Past. The need to deflect blame away from ourselves and onto events and people from our past; a subset of blaming everyone else. Part of #12.

14. Playing Favorites. Failing to see that we are treating someone unfairly. In some ways I don't agree with this. People will naturally click with some people and not with others. I do, however, think we need to treat everyone with dignity and respect. We need to value other people.

15. Refusing to Express Regret. The inability to take responsibility for our actions, admit we’re wrong, or recognize how our actions affect others. See #12.

16. Not Listening. The most passive-aggressive form of disrespect for colleagues. I think this also goes back to really valuing the people around us. If we value and respect someone we will listen to them. If we value someone but find it hard to listen, we will become better listeners.

17. Failing to Express Gratitude. The most basic form of bad manners. This is very close to being able to recognize the contribution of others.

18. Punishing the Messenger. The misguided need to attack the innocent, who are usually only trying to protect us. Take the time to find out who or what is really at fault. Hold people accountable, but also be willing to give grace and "second chances."

19. Passing the Buck. The need to blame everyone but ourselves. Be a man (or woman) and take responsibility for what you have done. As a leader your mistakes often cost other people. Be willing to own up to them.

20. An Excessive Need to Be “Me.” Exalting our faults as virtues simply because they exemplify who we are. "Being Me" is no excuse for a failure to grow, a failure to recognize your weaknesses, or a failure to take action. Be yourself, but seek to be a better self.

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