Is Your Leadership Being Undermined by These Habits?

Joe Weinlick
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Moving up the ranks at work doesn't transform you into a leader overnight. Unlike a superhero, you can't put on your boss costume and suddenly have all the knowledge and skills to be a perfect manager. It takes time to develop good leadership habits, and behavior that once seemed harmless can hold you back as you gain more responsibility. Watch out for these bad leadership habits that undermine your credibility as a manager.

1. Being Messy or Disorganized

Taking pride in your appearance and personal space is an important aspect of feeling confident and creating a positive environment. Employees and clients take cues from your management style, and looking too messy or casual sends the message that you don't care about making a good impression. On the other hand, dressing like a leader makes you feel self-assured when all eyes are on you.

2. Hoarding Responsibility

Once you're in a position of authority, it's easy to fall into the trap of micromanaging everything to avoid losing control. Trusting others is hard when the full responsibility falls on your shoulders, but taking on too much increases your chances of making mistakes. Instead of second-guessing your direct reports, focus on the skills and qualities that make your colleagues great at their jobs. You can't be an expert at every job, but you can encourage employees to own their roles and exceed expectations.

3. Seeking Approval

Waiting for others to affirm every idea and decision is one of the most damaging leadership habits. When you constantly expect others to tell you the correct course of action, employees start wondering why you're in charge at all. While it's not weak to ask for feedback, employees rely on you to steer the ship and give them guidelines for achieving team goals. To get things done, you have to make productive, timely decisions based on the most accurate information you have available, and accept the consequences of your actions.

4. Being Afraid to Delegate

A promotion can change relationship dynamics with people who were once your equals or superiors. You may be so afraid of delegating or holding others accountable that you try to do everything yourself. Accept the reality that you have influence, and you can use this newfound authority to build stronger relationships, identify talented employees and foster team growth. Refocus your anxiety by taking interest in the personal career goals of individual teammates. Adopting supportive leadership habits makes it easier to delegate and push co-workers to build their strengths.

5. Comparing Yourself to Others

Try not to obsess over the success of other people in your industry or peer group. Everyone has different traits and circumstances that contribute to their achievements, and feeling inadequate can stop you from taking risks that lead to success and innovation.

Poor leadership habits can rub off on your team and create a toxic environment. If you want to stay on a path to success, it's wise to reflect on your management style as you grow and weed out behaviors that hinder your progress. Study the leadership habits of people you admire to pick up on patterns of behavior that consistently lead to better teams and positive results.

Photo courtesy of jesadaphorn at


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