What to STOP Doing to Become a Great Leader

So you want to be a great leader? As important as developing the attitudes, skills and knowledge of leadership are, there are certain things you need to stop doing if you want to achieve the goal of becoming a great leader. In my work with leaders, the toughest part of change for them is to stop doing certain things. Here is my advice to them and to you:

  1. Stop jumping on bandwagons. A leader I knew was fond of flavor of the month movements. He drove his management team crazy. It wasn’t that any of the movements were bad in and of themselves. It was because he kept changing his mind. Stay focused on a single overarching goal, that is both inspiring and frightening.
  2. Stop trying to be someone you are not. Oscar Wilde got it right when he said “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken”. By all means examine what successful leaders do that make them successful, just don’t try to be them.
  3. Stop thinking about what other people will think of you. Ninety nine percent of the time they are thinking about themselves. We all are. Have the courage to have an opinion and express it. That’s how you garner followers.
  4. Stop talking and start listening. The wife of a Canadian politician once told him “Darling you have two communication styles…talking and waiting to talk.” You learn more by talking less. Keep the talking/listening thing in balance…I would suggest a 40/60 split.
  5. Stop procrastinating. You know what you want to do, you know where you want to go. Now is the time, now is your time. What are you waiting for?

So my challenge to you is this: the next time you and your management team embark on a strategic planning session, make the development of a single, inspiring organization wide goal* the one deliverable that you want to get from the exercise. It changes everything.

*Hint: Disney did it with “Make People Happy”; GE did it with “Be the #1 or #2”.