I’ve seen it so many times. Most likely you have also. Dangerous leadership practices. 

A leader can be doing everything else right and one flawed practice overshadows and jeopardizes all the good leadership principles we know.

One constantly repeated action, trait, habit, mindset – one practice.

Sadly, many times it’s not even the person isn’t a good leader – it’s one continued practice gets them off track. So, I believe leaders should constantly be working on bad practices, which keep them from being as successful as they can be.

Here are 7 dangerous leadership practices I’ve observed:

(In full disclosure, I’ve been guilty of some of these – sometimes for a season – sometimes until someone helped me discover I had a poor leadership practice. I can even know better and yet I allowed it to continue too long.)

Allowing small details to overwhelm a view of the big picture.

There will always be details, which have to be handled. Yet, the smaller a leader is forced to think, the less he or she can focus on the larger vision ahead.

I can get bogged down in minutia which wastes my energy and drains me. Sometimes it’s a systems problem that requires too much of my time and sometimes its a failure to delegate.

Ironically, I have found that when I’m free from the responsibility of handling as many details, I’m more likely to notice the smaller things which do need my attention.

Always seeing the glass as half-empty.

A consistently negative leader will seldom find success long-term, simply because people will not care to follow.

Some people have a negative view all the time and about everything (and I don’t personally think leadership is their thing). Practicing this mindset can also last for a season – especially when there are numerous setbacks around us either in our personal life or where we lead. It could also occur in times of fast change, when the complainers seem to outnumber those offering compliments.

If we aren’t careful – we can let a practice develop where we constantly have a negative mindset. That begins to carry over into every other area of our life – and we start to view our world this way. It’s very difficult to follow a negative-minded leader.

Not enjoying the journey.

Never taking time to celebrate will eventually derail good leadership.

High achieving leaders can often fall into this trap. I get there at times and have to be reminded – either through personal discipline or when others speak into my life.

I’m always seeing the next big opportunity ahead and striving for constant improvement. Also, I can fail to recognize current success while continually searching for future potential.

The problem is a constant forward push isn’t sustainable long-term. It burns people out, makes them feel under appreciated, and leads to a very low team morale.

People need disciplined plateaus where they can rest, catch their breath and celebrate the victory already achieved.

Expecting more from others than you’re personally willing to give.

I once worked for a leader like this. He had high expectations for everyone, not only in quality of work, but also in how many hours they should be working. The problem was this leader didn’t appear to have high expectations for himself.

He would work just enough to bark out a few orders, but then he was gone. And because he was mostly an absentee leader, even if he was working when he wasn’t around (and I personally knew he was often working out of the office), no one believed he was.

People following a leader with this mindset mostly stay for a paycheck.

Assuming all the credit or all the blame.

This is especially true if the leader’s mindset thinks he or she deserves all the credit or all the blame.

There is no success on a team without the efforts of others. When a leader takes all the accolades or rewards for himself, the team becomes employees of a boss rather than followers of a leader. Work becomes a job, not a career. That’s true of the mistakes a team makes as well.

It could be simply in the language of the leader. If “I” did it – if it was all because of “me” – “they” may soon, even if in only in their motivation – let “me” do it on my own. Shared success and failure is paramount for a leader’s long-term success.

Never shutting down or turning everything off.

You can’t do it. Don’t think you can. You may think you can always be on – do everything – be everywhere – but, you can’t. Superman couldn’t. Jesus didn’t. Don’t try.

(Someone reading this still thinks they can – okay – you’ve been warned.)

For me, this poor practice usually comes when I don’t discipline myself to say no, worry too much what people think – especially the ones who expect me to be everywhere or think I should know everything which happens in our church.

Thankfully, I’ve matured enough I won’t let the season go long without an intentional shut-down. (For me, this usually involves me getting out of town. As a potential workaholic, there’s always something to do as long as I’m here.)

Isolating from other people.

The mindset which thinks a leader can’t let others too close to them is one of the most dangerous I’ve observed. Leadership can be a lonely job. But it shouldn’t be the job of a loner. We need people, accountability and community. All leaders need those who can speak into the dark places of our hearts and lives. When we become islands to ourselves we are an invitation for the enemy’s attacks.

Nate and I have launched a new season of the Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast. Subscribe now so you don’t miss the next one.

Ron Edmondson

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