Breaking Bad Habits as a Leader


If you’re in a position of leadership, hopefully you’ll have the right sort of qualities to make you a great leader! But the fact is, we all tend to pick up bad habits as we progress in our careers, simply because we do these things so often. Such habits can be hard to break, but if you’re aware of them, it does become easier.

We’ve explored some of the common bad habits leaders possess below, and looked at ways these habits can be overcome. They may not all apply to you at this stage, but it can be easy to slip into such behaviours. So try to be mindful about the way you act, ensuring that you’re only displaying your best qualities!

1. Believing You’re Great at Everything

Some leaders think that they excel at just about everything. They’ll get involved in every project, often slowing down the work by making a nuisance of themselves! A great leader knows how to leverage their skills, but it’s important to acknowledge your weaknesses too. We all have areas we struggle in, and while it’s admirable to keep trying to improve your skills in these areas, this shouldn’t be to the detriment of your business.

So if you believe you add value to each aspect of your company, and have no weak areas, how do you break this habit? The best thing to do is try and understand your weaknesses. Ask those around you which of your skills need improvement, and make an action plan on how to develop your skills. It’s also good to bear in mind that setting an example, in terms of self improvement, is one part of your role as a leader.

2. Dismissing Ideas Constantly

Are you the sort of person who always has something negative to say, in response to new ideas or concepts? This is not only a bad habit, it can also stop your organisation from reaching its growth potential. Some of the best and most innovative concepts can come from informal discussions where any idea is considered, no matter how outlandish it may seem. And if you always dismiss such ideas, people will become reluctant to present you with new ones.

Your employees may even stop bringing their problems to you, and stop telling you what’s on their mind. As a leader, these are things you need to know about. When it comes to dismissing ideas, although you might not be able to change the way you feel, you can alter the way you respond. Try and act in a way that encourages openness, even if you don’t always act on the ideas you’re presented with.

3. Taking People for Granted

Both within your workplace and outside of it, everyone wants to feel valued. In your job, you want to be recognised for all the hard work you do. So if you take people for granted, you’re doing them a disservice, not to mention preventing your business from flourishing. When an individual feels like they are overlooked, they are unlikely to push themselves.

Breaking this bad habit can be challenging. If you’re forcing yourself to recognise people’s achievements, it may come across as insincere. You should therefore consider holding structured recognition sessions, such as in staff meetings, weekly email bulletins, or any other regular event your organisation holds.

4. Micromanaging Your Staff

Leaders with a tendency to micromanage their employees are often holding them back. This sort of management style stops innovation, motivation and creates a culture of mistrust. Although you do need to give people goals and a direction to head to, telling them how to get there won’t be particularly helpful.

The reason some managers have micromanagement tendencies is because they’re worried they’ll be shown up by their subordinates. They don’t want to believe that someone can carry out a task better than them. If you do find yourself taking control of every project, regardless of your expertise, you need to break the habit by learning to trust your team. They were hired to do a certain job, as they have the skill set to do it – let them get on with it!

5. Always Avoiding Conflict

While few people enjoy conflict, sometimes disagreements are necessary to get a job done. For example, if someone hasn’t completed their part of a project by the agreed deadline, and you need this to do your job, you may have to confront them about their timekeeping. As a manager, if you have a habit of avoiding conflict, your staff may start to lose faith in your leadership skills.

In terms of overcoming this habit, you have to force yourself to have difficult conversations when required, and face any problems head-on. It might be painful at the time, but confronting someone will still be less stressful than avoiding a problem and letting it fester. 

Overall, when it comes to breaking bad habits, you’ll probably find that it won’t be fast or easy. But with a lot of time and effort, just about any bad habit can be overcome.


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