Unrecognized Ineffective Leadership Habits

Successful Leadership takes discipline, powerful communication, inspiration to keep good employees happy, inclusion of all cultures, and most of all assuring personal success. Extraordinary leaders still make ordinary mistakes This four part series reviews those mistakes and describes how leaders can avoid them



Great leaders exhibit courage, humility, and discipline combined with selected competencies that can drive their performance from good to great. Key competencies that successful leaders need to be exceptional managing are communication, associate engagement, business change, the inclusion of ideas and people from all cultures, faiths, and beliefs, and assuring personal success. For a closer look at the definition of these competencies click here https://wordpress.com/post/marykuniski.com/531.

Unfortunately, even the best leaders have bad practices. This series will examine the unfortunate habits of those whom we consider good leaders and provide future leaders with some ideas on how to overcome these unacceptable behaviors. Four primary categories represent 20 ineffective habits of successful leaders. These categories include the following: 1) promoting one’s value; 2) overusing emotions; 3) empowering the ego 4) upholding boundaries. This week’s blog will focus on the methods some leaders use to promote their value.

 Adding Too Much Value

We have all attended meetings only to discover that the person that takes over every session is in attendance. Nothing could be more frustrating to the meeting leader than having an attendee who knows nothing about the topic, shows up late and interrupts the meeting to talk about something completely out of context to the discussion. A consultant I once worked with routinely showed up 20 minutes late to every assemblage and asked us to repeat everything that we discussed in the time he missed. We all decided he was trying to show us how important he was by arriving late, but he certainly did not gain our admiration using this behavior. He would talk and talk about what he had done at other clients but he never really added value to the discussion because he did not understand the day-to-day operations of our business.  He merely wanted to be heard and had an overwhelming desire to add his two cents to every discussion.

Keeping in mind this consultant was a direct pipeline to our supervisors we were a little stumped on how to deal with the situation. In reality, our bosses would have had more respect for us if we called the consultant out on the behavior. Meeting leaders have a responsibility to keep meetings on track by having an agenda with time blocks for each topic and sending the program out to the participants in advance of the meeting. The time and date of the meeting should also be broadcast to all participants, and the meeting should start and end promptly as advertised. Latecomers should not be allowed to interrupt the meeting. When the attendee is late several times and participants refuse his/her request to repeat information they will stop attending late. If they are unavoidably late, they can make an appointment with the meeting leader to catch up after the meeting. The meeting leader should limit the amount of time given to participants to discuss topics. If he or she feels the discussion is going on too long and not making progress, they can undoubtedly table the discussion until the next meeting and ask everyone to finetune their thoughts. Meeting leaders must show balanced governance to prevent participants from attempting to add value when none exists.

Claiming Credit That We Do Not Deserve

As our consultant’s engagement was ending, all the captains of the teams he established were aghast when he took the credit for the results of the commitment. He certainly had the right to claim some credit. After all, he was the one who came up with the ideas for the four workgroups. However, workgroups mean multiple individuals were working together to resolve problems. The teams developed and changed processes, communicated to the executives and their managers, and implemented change management. The workgroups deserved to be recognized for their efforts as they went far and above their regular jobs. The consultant may not have been aware that he was going to be recognized for the results of the workgroups. However, his response should have been to circle back and make it clear where the credit was due to the leaders in each workgroup. Using that approach would have earned him credibility and admiration.

What should the workgroups have done?  Each team had a captain who was steering the work of the group and reporting results to the executives. These captains should have gotten together and provided a list of names in their cohort to the consultant so he could ensure the workgroups were recognized. A small reminder such as this will usually stimulate the individual who is taking credit to provide credit where it is due.

Passing Judgment.

We all are judgmental at times. It is simply unavoidable. Yes, even you. I  am many times. I believe it is human nature.  Walt Whitman once said, “Be curious, not judgmental.”

We have to ask ourselves how helpful it is to be judgmental. Does it do any good when we talked about the girl who just walked by, and most of her body was covered in Tattoos? Did we make a sale when we prejudged a customer and assumed they did not want the top of the line TV? Think about it for a second; we see someone and based on their looks or actions, we pass judgment on them. Not a good judgment, either. Usually without even knowing the person. Moreover, that’s it — that’s usually the extent of our interaction with that person. We don’t make an effort to get to know the person, or understand them, or see whether our judgment was right or not.

So let’s consider what happens when we pass judgment on people we do know. We see something they do, and get angry at it, or disappointed in the person, or think worse of them. We judge, without understanding. That’s the end of it — we don’t try to find out more, and through communication begin to understand, and through understanding, start to build a bridge between two human beings.

How do we stop this personal behavior? Pure acceptance of each other probably will not work, however, what is the most natural solution? Dale Carnegie says, “Become genuinely interested in other people.” Building a new habit of becoming genuinely interested in others helps us recognize when we might be judgmental. To make this change, we should stop at least once each day when we begin to judge another person and observe them. We might reframe what we are seeing in a new scenario that is easier for us to accept. This process takes a great deal of self-awareness. Seek to understand the other person. Put yourself in his/her shoes. Try to imagine their background. If possible, talk to them and find out their story. Once we are aware and understand how the individual got to this point, we will stop being judgmental and begin to accept the person for whom he/she is without trying to change them. Taking this action will relieve a great deal of stress in our lives.

Starting with No, But, or However

Dale Carnegie often pointed out that we should never tell someone they are wrong. Don’t the words No, But or However already say the speaker is wrong? Think about it a minute. You are having a great meeting; Everyone is participating and throwing out their best ideas. Someone brings up an idea that has been tried before and you say NO we tried that before and it didn’t work. Suddenly, dead silence falls around the room, and no more suggestions are forthcoming. The same could happen with the word BUT (which is an acronym for Behold The Underlying Truth). You partially agree with the idea but you want to add one more thing. Instead of saying but, perhaps you could use the word AND we can add one more element and make this idea better.  The word HOWEVER is used to introduce a statement that contrasts with or seems to contradict something that has been previously been said. Doesn’t that definition sound like a fancy way to tell the other person No?

So often when we respond, we immediately say what we think or give our opinion without giving it much thought.  How different our response might be if we allowed ourselves to formulate our opinion with evidence before responding. We might even ask a question or two to ensure our understanding. The next time you disagree with someone take a minute or two to consider why you disagree. Ask yourself why you think that and what proof do you have that what you think is correct. Then when you respond you can begin the substantiation, then tell what you believe the verification indicates to you and then what you believe based on the evidence. The conversation might go something like this.

Person 1 – We cannot add any additional resources to our staff because there is no space for them to sit.

Person 2 – I have read some interesting articles that indicate many companies are adding a second shift to have employees share the space available and the results are improved productivity. I have also read that allowing employees to work from home is becoming very popular and would only require us to supply a computer and access to our network. Therefore, I believe we can add resources to our staff by entertaining one or both of these solutions.

This type of answer does take a little practice but what a difference your response makes and how you benefit with admiration as a leader.

Making Destructive Comments

We all do it; we make negative or sarcastic comments right in front of the person, so they get our point or to make ourselves sound sharp and witty. People make adverse comments all day long, and the comments often lead to downgrading themselves. For example, a person might say to themselves no one ever bothers to tell me anything, or there’s no way this will work. Perhaps they think of themselves as a loser because other people can do what they cannot do.

Facing problems such as destructive comments head-on is the only way to handle these situations. Begin by logging what you and the other person said. Next, analyze why you said something destructive about yourself or another person. If you did say something harmful to another person go back as soon as possible and apologize. Let the other person save face by explaining you were in the wrong by making a comment. Continue this practice until you can determine the true cause of your unhelpful feelings. Once you understand the cause, you can correct the situation. When leaders make destructive comments, they are often showing their insecurity. Only you can change this insecure behavior!

Final Thoughts

Demonstrating genuine and positive leadership can be very difficult at times. Even successful leaders have moments when their behavior does not match the picture of an effective leader. It is very rare when we influence our employees each day through praise and honest appreciation. Even if our employees have made a mistake, as leaders, we are challenged to call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly. Often if we talk about own mistakes first, we can make our point to our employee without criticizing them.

For more information about improving your leadership skills, contact Executive Coach, Mary Kuniski at mkuniski@me.com.

Published by GoldenProfessionalCoaching.com

A Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching Company

We Build Tomorrow’s Leaders

Reference: “What Got You There Won’t Get You There.” Marshall Goldsmith, pg. 40

“The Golden Book” Dale Carnegie


Mary Kuniski is a catalyst for business and individual change. Throughout her career, she has consistently led corporate businesses into the future, often achieving process improvement and change that others could not. Mary’s enthusiastic attitude and tenacious ability to keep moving forward is why she identifies with this quote from Dale Carnegie: “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” Passionate about problem resolution and committed to coaching and leading others, Mary is driven to ensure that everything she does provides lasting value. At a young age, her leadership and public speaking skills were recognized and nurtured through her ten-year participation in 4-H. She has also fostered change for businesses such as Parkinson Voice Project, where she directed the implementation of their website and online learning management system, and Overhead Door Corporation, where she created and launched a successful core data process improvement strategy. During her tenure with The Michaels Companies, Mary held five Director positions and three Vice President roles, and pioneered the company’s expansion into Quebec. Her efforts to lead the transformation of over 40,000 craft items to three languages resulted in Michaels becoming the first international retailer to acquire language certification from Quebec on the initial attempt. This meant Michaels successfully adherred to strict French-language laws. Mary has over 20 years in executive leadership in the retail industry and for 10 years led supply chain shipment improvement and savings and reduction efforts at Michaels. Mary is a Dale Carnegie graduate, certified trainer, and consultant for Dale Carnegie DFW's Executive Leadership training. She holds an MBA in Global Management from the University of Phoenix and a degree in Human Development, Clothing Studies from Pennsylvania State University.

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