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4 Bad Leadership Practices I Use in a New Position

By September 20, 2022Leadership

In the early days of a leadership position I have some intentionally bad leadership practices. 

Here are a few examples: 

I micromanage – 

I do not like micromanaging and don’t want it done to me. In the early days of a new position I find it sometimes necessary. Not with everything, but I need to manage some things closer so I get a handle on where things are currently. 

This will usually be around things like hiring, budgeting and expenses. It always involves anything directional that will set the course for some time and be harder to unravel later. 

I miscommunicate – 

This one I don’t do on purpose, but it has almost always become a natural fallout of new leadership for me. Too many things are happening too quickly to let everyone know everything they probably need or want to know. 

This is unfortunate, but I have found it to be expected. I even tell our team to expect it. And invite them to ask questions any time they have one if they aren’t clear about something. The only alternative would be to move much slower than I know we need to move on major initiatives.

I frustrate people – 

Again, I don’t do this intentionally. Yet, I know it will frustrate people when I don’t make all the decisions people expect or want me to make. Some decisions require me to wait before I can make them. 

Yet, a team is looking for leadership. They’ve likely been waiting for the new leader. But strategic leaders know this takes time. This can be frustrating for those who are ready to do something and see results NOW. 

I stall progress

I  hate this one most. Personally, I like to move things forward. I like new ideas. Someone once said I never saw an idea I didn’t like. And that may be true. Let’s get this party started. 

Yet, in the early days of the new leadership position I try to slow things down. Again, I’m trying to get my arms around all that is happening and the only way I can do that is to take time to listen and observe. That means we can’t start a lot of new initiatives and still be able to properly analyze what we are already doing.  

If a new leader is not careful they can come in with a lot of energy and spur a lot of momentum but in the process run over people and caused them to feel what they are currently doing is devalued or unimportant. 

In a long-term leadership position, most of these I would consider bad leadership practices. They should never continue long even when a leader is new.  Of course, the obvious question is how long do I continue these practices. I wish I had an exact answer for that it really depends on the circumstances. 

Generally, you’re probably talking about the first 3 to 6 months. It could be longer and it could be shorter in some cases.  Certainly, in my experience, the longer an organization has been in decline or plateau the longer it will take to turn things around. Therefore, these practices may be needed for a longer period. I would suggest, however, they not be any longer than absolutely necessary. Get on with practicing good leadership – which is usually the opposite of each of these.

Check out my leadership podcast where we discuss issues of leadership in a practical way. Plus, check out the other Lifeway Leadership Podcasts.

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Jim Pemberton says:

    There's one that I learned in the Marines. They didn't teach this in NCO school, but you pick this up as a matter of wisdom in maintaining discipline:

    When assuming leadership in a move to a new unit, be hard-nosed. You will issue commands and you expect them to be followed. That's your "rank capital". After a few months the unit will accept you in your position and trust you so that you can back off a little. That's "trust capital". There is no honeymoon period in a new command. Once you have established yourself and have developed relationships with the people there, then things get easier. They will more readily follow your orders.

    In church leadership, you have a honeymoon period. You may start with some "grace capital" for persuading people to go along with some change, but you have to earn some trust in the process so you have that "trust capital" to spend later. But even still, if you are hired to lead, then you need to lead. More than once I have heard church members or other churches tell me about new things going on in their church and a common thing I hear is, "Well, you know that we have that new _[person brought on staff]__. He seems like he knows what he's doing and we are hopeful that he's going to fix ___[whatever perceived problem needs fixing]___." I recommend finding out what those perceived problems are before someone gets hired to see if that would be a good fit for them before they get saddled with something they don't know how to fix, but then coming on going hard at fixing those perceived problems even if it means the 4 bad leadership principles above happen. If the outcome is seen as positive, a lot of "trust capital" can be earned.