Solving The 12 Dumbest Things Leaders Do

The most important thing you do happens after you do something dumb.

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#1. Focusing on low performers while neglecting high performers.

Solution: Spend most of your development resources on “B” performers. Reward “A’s.” Develop “B’s.”

#2. Declaring conclusions. You’ve been mulling something over for a few days, then bam, you share your conclusion.

Solution: Engage people early and often. You’re going to explain yourself before or after you make a decision. 

#3. Getting lost in the weeds. A leader in the weeds ends up frantic, defeated, or both.

Solution: Reconnect with purpose and mission when frustration persists. Remember what you’re trying to accomplish. Take a small step forward.

#4. Forgetting you intimidate people because of your position or title.

Solution: Relax. Breathe. Smile. Maintain low tones.

#5. Believing all the good things people tell you.

Solution: Find the people who tell you the unvarnished truth and give them a raise.

#6. Giving feedback only when things go wrong.

Solution: Create feedback systems that are implemented regardless of outcome.

#7. Treating everyone the same. What inspires one, discourages another.

Solution: Learn the values of teammates. Use relational language with those committed to relationships, for example.

#8. Creating artificial urgency. 

Solution: Don’t pretend there’s an emergency in order to fuel energy. Remember people do things for their reasons not yours.

#9. Interrupting.

Solution: Shut-up if you tend to interrupt.

#10. Relying on email when things get heated.

Solution: Pick up the phone when things get hot. Better yet, show up in someone’s doorway.

#11. Allowing people to talk theory rather than action in meetings.

Solution: Ask, “Who does what by when,” over and over.

#12. Spending too much time talking about problems and not enough exploring options.

Solution: Say, “I hear what went wrong. What might we do about it?” After the first suggestion say, “What else,” two or three more times.

What are the top three dumb things leaders do? 

What might you add to the list by way of dumb things or solutions?