Destructive Habits for Leaders

By | June 9, 2014

[June 09, 2014] Effective leadership means the leader should be regularly identifying and eliminating their bad habits; those that affect their leadership. Bad habits make it much more difficult to be successful leaders. Mountains of self-help articles and books are written, seminars given, and academic courses taken on how to eliminate bad habits.1

Zigler-400Leaders, of course, are subject to the same personal failures and bad habits as anyone else. Leader-specific bad habits will have an impact for beyond that individual person. Bad habits in a leader can be destructive in the workplace for others and can lead to the downfall of a leader. This is particularly true for senior leaders.

Based on conversations with experienced military leaders, we know that it is easy to slip into bad habits without even knowing about it. These conversations have helped generate a short list of difficult bad habits for leaders to break. Of course, good leadership means making the effort to either eliminate or replace them with good habits.

Here are some of the most insidious and hardest to break bad habits for a leader:

  1. Complacency
  2. Failure to listen
  3. Making assumptions
  4. Sloppy communication
  5. Setting low expectations
  6. Being inconsistent
  7. Shutting out bad news
  8. Deferring problems

None of these should be a surprise. What is surprising is that leaders regularly fall into the bad habit trap and don’t seem to want to change. This is why it is so important for leaders to have a mentor. That person can help point out the bad habit problem and point that leader in the right direction. It remains up to the leader to do something about it.

“Bad habits are easier to abandon today than tomorrow.” – Yiddish Proverb

The first rule of getting rid of bad habits is to start now. This means that a leader must have the motivation and desire; for without them, that leader will eventually fail.

[Don’t forget to “Like” the Leader Maker at our Facebook Page.]


[1] Here are some good articles on how to eliminate bad habits:




Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.