20 Common Leader Weaknesses

By | October 6, 2020

[October 6, 2020]  To paraphrase the witty French historian and philosopher Voltaire, he once said that “We are all full of weaknesses and errors … that is the first law of nature.”  I agree.  And, the sooner each leader faces their weaknesses, the sooner they can begin the long journey to greater leadership and helping their family, friends, community, and maybe, if we are good enough, helping our country.

Here are 20 ways that I have found that leaders are weak.  These are nearly universally a problem at some point and rarely are leaders able to completely overcome them.

  1. Lying to Yourself: to convince yourself something that is true, that is not, is one of the worst things a person can do to themselves and their family.
  2. Procrastinating: putting off difficult jobs or tasks.
  3. Having Poor Organization Skills: administrative tasks and organizational programs and processes are not addressed.
  4. Being Distracted: by sports, hunting and fishing, and other outdoor sports activities.
  5. Emotions Rule: it is too easy to allow their emotions to overcome their brain.
  6. Micro-Managing: breathing down the team’s neck will get you pushback.
  7. Not being Flexible or Adaptable: rigidity will get you killed in the military.
  8. Lacking Vision: a clear, precise vision of the future is always necessary.
  9. Being Transfixed on the Immediate: and ignoring long-term issues.
  10. Not Taking the Time to Read, Study, and Think: this one is obvious but needed to be stated. There never seems to be enough time to get things done.
  11. Being the Good Idea Fairy: and usually at the last possible moment to come up with a new idea.
  12. Making Empty Promises: failing to keep your promise will put you in hot water fast.
  13. Showing Favoritism: treat everyone fairly and the same.
  14. Taking Credit for Success: if you take all the credit and are in charge, you just disrespected the team.
  15. Lack of Caring or Empathy: caring for the team and empathy helps grease the skids between human needs and their desire to be treated respectfully.
  16. Not Listening: or giving the appearance of listening and not doing so, means the leader is out of touch and will remain so.
  17. Making Unnecessarily Risky Decisions: without a thorough look at the problem, some leaders just decide without any real analysis.
  18. Lacking Common Values; if you cannot be trusted, you cannot be a leader.
  19. Giving Ineffective or Disrespectful Feedback: who hasn’t witnessed this problem at work? Your boss backbriefs you on your latest mission and doesn’t say anything of value.
  20. Demanding too much Attention: leaders who demand the constant attention of others are insecure and too needy.
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I provide one article every day. My writings are influenced by great thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Jung, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Jean Piaget, Erich Neumann, and Jordan Peterson, whose insight and brilliance have gotten millions worldwide to think about improving ourselves. Thank you for reading my blog.

16 thoughts on “20 Common Leader Weaknesses

  1. Dennis Mathes

    Your list is amazing. I found myself in each of them. Wow. I’m also happy to know others struggle at the same obstacles as I.

  2. Ronny Fisher

    “Making empty promises” is such a pain in the a$$. My boss does this all the time and it drives me nuts. But more than anything else, him lying to me is the worst.

    1. Eric Coda

      Right, the problem with lying is that it destroys the social bonds between us and if there is anything that we humans need, it is social bonds. It is a survival tool of the greatest need.

  3. Max Foster

    Gen. Satterfield, thank you for this list. I will, for the record, note that you list “lying to yourself” as the No. 1 weakness of leaders and are spot on. I will say that at first I was a bit surprised this was on the list at all. If you go thru and search on the topic of leader weaknesses, you will never see this on anyone’s list of weaknesses. But I believe you are correct and lying to one’s self is the greatest weakness of all.

    1. Otto Z. Zuckermann

      Max, yes and it also goes to show how most of these “lists” are not worth much. But Gen. Satterfield has put a stake thru the heart of “leader weakness.”

    2. Yusaf from Texas

      Yes, excellent comment to call out the highest and most dangerous weakness a leader (or anyone, for that matter) can have as a personal trait. Here is an experiment – don’t lie at all for just one day. I’ll bet – to be honest with yourself – that you can’t do it. And it’s easier not to lie to others (and thus stop it) than lying to yourself.

      1. Joe Omerrod

        Yusad, we can’t do it. Just simply cannot stop lying. Why? I can say that Dr. Jordan Peterson has tried to explain it and he does a great job of it. I recommend his videos on YouTube.

    3. Douglas R. Satterfield Post author

      Max, your support is greatly appreciated. And, yes, I do note that lying to one’s self is the greatest leader weakness and yet we consistently fail to note it anywhere.

  4. Randy Goodman

    Here we go …… pow! Long but productive list of things we should NOT do as a leader. But I will write the obvious and note that no one, regardless of position in society, should do these things. Hey folks, stop being weak!

    1. Tom Bushmaster

      Stop Being Weak – I think this should be the name of a new book by Gen. Satterfield.

      1. Forrest Gump

        I looked it up on Amazon, there is no book with that title. Steal it NOW.

      2. Newtown Manager

        You guys are just too kind. Not everyone is strong. Much of this is personality based, inborn (like a good dog), and cannot be changed. We can work against our very nature but it is very very difficult for the best of us and impossible for all of us.


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