These 20 Bad Habits Are Stopping You from Being an Effective Leader

These 20 Bad Habits Are Stopping You from Being an Effective Leader


Being a leader and leading a team can be a challenging task. Not everyone is cut out to be a leader.

Before you become a leader, you may have worked with quite a few people who weren’t cut out to be managing others. So, in essence, you know what works and doesn’t work when you are the receiving end of bad leadership.

But what happens when you finally get to be in the position of managing a team. Do you have the skills to make it or are there certain behaviors that you have which will prevent you from being a great leader?

I heard from healthcare expert, leadership development authority and author Marshall Goldsmith, who lists in his book, “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There:  How Successful People Become Even More Successful!“, 20 habits that hold you back from the top.

Leadership development needs to encourage leaders what to do, the Founder of the Dynamic Leadership Academy™ and  contributing author to the Wall Street Journal bestseller, “Masters of Success” said. And it should also include letting leaders know what they need to stop doing.

Here is Marshall’s list:


1. Winning too much:  The need to win at all costs, when it matters, when it doesn’t matter.

2. Adding too much value:  Always adding to the conversation or telling others what they need to do, regardless if that input is needed or wanted.

3. Passing judgment:  Always imposing your standards on others.

4. Making destructive comments:  Using sarcasm and cutting remarks to make you sound sharp or witty.

5. Starting with “No,” “But,” or “However:”  These words immediately tell the other person he/she is wrong

6. Telling the world how smart we are:  The need to tell others you are smarter than they think you are.

7. Speaking when angry:  Using emotional volatility as a management tool.

8. Negativity, or “Let me explain why that won’t work:”  Sharing your negative thoughts when your opinion isn’t necessarily desired or wanted.

9. Withholding information:  Not sharing information destroys trust.

10. Failing to give proper recognition:  The inability to praise others.

11. Claiming credit that we don’t deserve:  Overstating your value while annoying others.

12. Making excuses:  Repositioning your annoying behavior in an attempt to have others let you off the hook.

13. Clinging to the past:  Allows the blame to be placed on other people and circumstances.

14. Playing favorites:  Everyone wants to be treated fairly.

15. Refusing to express regret:  The equivalent of not taking responsibility for your actions.

16. Not listening:  Shows disrespect to others.

17. Failing to express gratitude:  This is simply bad manners.

18. Punishing the messenger:  More often than not, the messenger is trying to be of help.

19. Passing the buck:  The practice of blaming everyone except you.

20. An excessive need to be “me:” Using “it’s just the way you are” as an excuse.

Finally, Marshall ends:

Recognize anything from this list?  Do you know a leader who has any of these habits?  Do you have any of these habits?  As your career advances, changes in your behavior is often one of the few significant changes you can make.

If you identify with any of the habits listed, pick the one that would make the greatest impact for you and your organization if you changed it.  Focus on that one habit and the related behaviors.

Ask those around you to help you as you work on that habit.  Ask them to give you feedback.

Openly accept that feedback.  It won’t be easy, but you can do it.  It will help you become a more effective leader.  It will help you become the leader you want to be.

Good Luck!

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Jay Jay Ghatt is also editor at, founder of the and where she teaches online creators how to navigate digital entrepreneurship and offers Do-It-For-You Blogging Service. She manages her lifestyle sites BellyitchBlog, Jenebaspeaks and and is the founder of 200 Black Women in Tech On Twitter. Her biz podcast 10 Minute Podcast is available on iTunes and Follow her on Twitter at @Jenebaspeaks. Buy her templates over at her legal and business templates on Etsy shop!