3 Things Great Leaders Will Stop Doing

Greater LeadersMen aspire to influence and help others. We don’t want to live passive lives, taking a back seat to what others want. As I man, I hate seeing a person that needs help, vision and insight walk idly buy if I can help them out. That’s why we want to become better leaders—not for fame, fortune, or feeling (of power). It’s to help others grow. Great leaders think of others first.

As men, we will do well in life if we work to grow as leaders. Remember, this doesn’t happen on accident. It happens on purpose.

I was reading a unique article at CEO.com recently. It flipped how we often read about leadership on it’s head.

Instead of focusing on “how to be a great leader,” it focused on bad habits, traditions and principles that great leaders have realized they should stop doing.

I decided to rehash some of these thoughts myself, and add to them my own. The original article can be seen here: 5 Things Great Leaders No Longer Do.

 1. Give Feedback Once A Year

This may have worked in the past (but probably didn’t) and it definitely doesn’t work now.

In my previous life I directed a call center for a non-profit. We had 140 staff and interns. Mostly young people 18-22 years old. They were bold, energetic, and hungry to learn. So our management team gave them as much feedback as possible. Instead of just giving them feedback once a year, we gave them a performance review every 8 weeks.

Does that sound overboard? Not at all. Imagine if we only sat down and gave them feedback once a year. They would have gone year to year not knowing how they were improving, and what still needed to be changed.

We were so in rhythm giving feedback that it happened every week (well, at least in my perceived perfect world).

Here’s a secret I told our managers, supervisors and team captains—you’re people shouldn’t be surprised, shouldn’t hear something new during a performance evaluation. You should have already addressed it, walked through, and given them development on the subject. If it’s a surprise during the performance review, there is a relationship and communication breakdown between you and the individual. Which, without a doubt, is going to hinder you being an effective team.

The Point: Don’t give people feedback once a year. Everyone wants to feel like they’re growing, and not just at the end of the year.

2. Wait To Apologize

It’s a mistake to delay taking responsibility for a wrong, a rude remark, or letting a teammate hang out to dry.

There’s more on this in How To Man Up To Your Mistakes.

Have you ever said, “Look, I’ve been meaning to apologize”? Like the above point, this is indicative of delay and bad communicating. Want to be a part of an efficient, effective and meaningful environment? You won’t get there by withholding and impeding by refusing to apologize.

The Point: If you’ve blown it, recognize it and say it.

I promise people will recognize your humility–and admire you for it.

Humility: The Quiet Trait That Everyone Will Notice. Check it out.

3. Hold meetings to solicit ideas.

Ah. I hope I was not the king of wasted brainstorming meetings.

Whenever I was invited to one, I was extremely hesitant to go. I sometimes asked, “Are you really planning on taking these ideas and doing something with them?” I mean, if I’m going to prepare original thoughts I want to know my time is well spent.

Getting a group of people together to shoot from the hip isn’t always the most effective use of their time.

A great leader is easy to approach, and people feel at ease communicating with them. Ideas should be coming all the time. So when it’s time to really get together and drill down through ideas, the subject should not be foreign and a lot of the ideas shouldn’t be “new.” They should be stuff you’ve heard and you all can articulate about at a bit deeper of a level.

I learned that when I would hold “ideation” meetings, most ideas and plans people share can’t be realized immediately, and sometimes never. Those ideas may gestate and be realized as something else though—but they can’t see that. Holding infrequent brainstorming times can be patronizing if we’re not careful as leaders. You can listen to people for hours but they won’t feel listened to if you do nothing with their ideas or later on inform them of where their ideas are at in the pipeline.

The Point: Great leaders DO gather people to share ideas. But it’s not a once-in-a-while-event. Great leaders are listening so frequently people really do feel listened to.

Great Leaders

Maybe you don’t aspire to be a CEO or start your own organization. But each of us can influence a life, a friend, and someone at work. Maybe you’re not in management, but you might be one day. Take note: listen, be humble and take responsibility, and give people insightful feedback.

[Featured image credit: http://dribbble.com/amy_hoodlum]


  1. I like to think that when I make a mistake I am pretty quick to take responsibility for it. No use in trying to hide.

  2. I agree that you shouldn’t have to have a meeting to brainstorm; there needs to be an organic discourse at all times between all levels of professional hierarchy.

    • Unless it’s a smaller group, and everyone comes to the meeting ready and prepared, these types of meetings rarely produce many thoughtful ideas. It’s not impossible, but uncommon.

  3. I agree on this particular line:
    “You can listen to people for hours but they won’t feel listened to if you do nothing with their ideas or later on inform them of where their ideas are at in the pipeline.

    Having a brainstorming meeting is really a waste of anyone’s time especially if there comes a time you get tired listening to a person who really does not listen and pay attention to your ideas, suggestions.

    • I experienced this angst from others as a director in the past. I thought I was doing people a favor and “listening” but b/c I didn’t at least update them of what I tried to do with their idea, even if it had died and I at least made an attempt with it, they certainly didn’t feel listened to.

      I began to update people, even months later, when an idea they shared was being brought back in conversation with other departments/managers. It made them feel listened to that I remembered, and still gave them credit.

  4. I appreciate your point about appologizing in a timely manner. Sometimes I wallow in the fact that I feel I have done nothing wrong. Yet, it feels so much better to clear the air and appologize more quickly

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