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Ten Things to Avoid as a Successful Leader

Written by Russ Gadzhiev, PhD


“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams


“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.” – Theodore M. Hesburgh


“A good objective of leadership is to help those who are doing poorly to do well and to help those who are doing well to do even better.” – Jim Rohn


We have talked a lot about the concept of leadership in our Shiminly blog. We have discussed what leadership is, what true leaders usually do and how they become leaders. We have also discussed how you should try to develop the qualities of leadership in yourself. In this article, we are going to talk about what leaders should refrain from doing. And we are going to explain why you should never do it. So, what are these ten things that you should avoid doing when overseeing business? 


Stop trying to be the smartest person.


Instead of trying to come across as the most intelligent person, you should encourage your employees to think and solve problems. It is common knowledge that many leaders are guilty of trying to obtain validation. Such leaders often strive to provide answers to all questions, propose ideas that others may not agree with and make ill-thought decisions without explaining the rationale behind them. 

Instead of trying to be the star, start helping individuals around you and your employees to obtain more self-confidence and develop their own emotional intelligence. Unless you are dealing with some urgent, mega important issue, do not try to give all answers to your employees. Instead of that, ask them questions, and encourage them to look at problems from different perspectives. You will see that they are growing under your leadership. As a result of that, your company will generate more profits and be more successful.


Don’t let other employees – your subordinates – recruit talent.


Instead, do it yourself. Delegating the job of looking for talents is counterproductive, and it amounts to putting the future of your organization into someone else’s hands. Strong leaders do not do things this way. Instead, they take an active role in looking for talent and hiring creative employees. 

Likewise, don’t just expect that talent will show up at the job interviews that you are conducting. Try looking for talented people in unusual places – indeed sometimes talented employees can be found in places where you don’t expect to find them at all. Remember, identifying and finding talent is crucial to your role as a leader. 


Don’t presume that your employees don’t need to understand your plan or strategy.


Yes, if you are responsible for designing a strategy in your company, you need to make sure that they understand what you are talking about. Don’t presume that what you say is automatically clear to everyone. 


Take the time to bond with people.


If you are not interested in communicating with other humans, then there is something wrong with you as a leader. Remember, bonding is not just simply liking something. Bonding means establishing a deep emotional connection with the person you are dealing with. Such a deep emotional connection will be useful to you and your company in the long run.  Your employees will trust you and will the emotional environment in your company will be healthy. 


Stop being more inaccessible and unavailable.


Yes, as a leader your job is to delegate tasks and oversee processes. But at the same time, it does not mean that you must be emotionally detached from your employees. Those leaders who prefer just to assign tasks and then leave their employees alone, give a bad signal to their people. Assigning tasks and then just walking away from them means abandoning them. So, you need to be able to delegate tasks in a good and productive way. Good delegation of tasks means connecting with your employees and being accessible to them. 

So just show them that you are available to them. That does not mean at all that you should respond to every little thing that they request. Instead, it means that you need to create ways and channels for people to get in touch with you whenever they need you or your guidance. 


Stop underestimating the importance of giving feedback.


Your employees can do good work only if you are genuine with them and if you give them honest feedback. Some leaders prefer to gloss over the truth. Some even prefer to abstain from giving tough feedback thinking that it will hurt their employees’ self-esteem. Indeed, honest, and tough feedback may indeed upset your employees. But if you deliver your feedback in a way that stimulates your employees rather than discourages them from improving you will achieve two equally important things. You will help them grow as professionals and you will make your company get profits. 


Do not underestimate human emotions.


Emotions are part and parcel of human life. Some of them are stronger than others. Strong emotions include the emotions that people go through when they lose someone, when they are disappointed or when they feel that they have failed. Those leaders who underestimate the importance of emotions and believe that they are irrelevant to their company’s success are making huge mistakes. Dismissing other people’s emotions means reducing the quality of your engagement with them. If you stop being dismissive toward other people’s emotions and simply show interest in what they and what they go through, then you are going to be successful in understanding them.


Do not fear change.


Change is inevitable. It is just a fact of life. You need to embrace change, or you will lose control of the situation. Those leaders who do not wish to drive or inspire change and even fear change are doing their companies and businesses great disfavour.  When it comes to embracing change there is often another problem – leaders do not want to inspire change. You need to understand the importance of changing yourself and you need to try and inspire it in your people. 


Stop micromanaging people and treating them like cogs in a machine.


Bad leaders try to control their people incessantly failing to understand that such an approach is wrong. Instead, as a leader, you should encourage your employees and bring out the best in them. Build trusting relationships with them and regard them as people, not just employees. To develop that appreciation of your employees and remember the importance of their human potential, you also need to learn to be a good leader yourself. Remember there is nothing more unwise that you can do as a leader than micromanaging your employees. 

If you micromanage your employees, they can easily lose their confidence. Their creativity can be negatively impacted too. In the worst-case scenarios, employees who feel that they are micromanaged and are unhappy about it can start looking for work elsewhere. Some of them can even start suffering from anxiety and depression. As a leader, you should not allow this to happen. 


Do not be a perfectionist.


This is very counterproductive. What does perfectionism look like? Well, leaders who suffer from perfectionism are often responsible for creating a culture of blame in their organization. They belittle, criticize, and even bully their employers for making even small mistakes. There are many other things that may indicate your propensity to perfectionism. But why is perfectionism dangerous? Well first, because of perfectionism there is a significant risk that the productivity of your organization will plummet significantly. Moreover, because of your perfectionism, your employees will only feel uncertain and frustrated. So, remember that you need to stop being a perfectionist for the sake of your company’s success and the mental well-being of your employees. 

As you can see all of them boil down to one basic recommendation. Remember that your employees are humans and that all of them are invaluable assets to your organization. With the right approach to them and an understanding of their needs, you will be able to harness their potential to the benefit of your organization. Check out our recent Shiminly article on related topics and learn more about the concept of leadership! 





Russ Gadzhiev obtained his PhD in history and politics from University of Melbourne. He also holds a master’s degree in International Relations from Moscow State University of International Relations, a top-ranking diplomatic school. Russ is a strong education professional with a history of working in the higher education sector of Australia and effectively communicates with learners from diverse cultural backgrounds. He is enthusiastic about teaching and mentoring, writing, curriculum development, research, information management and public speaking. He is fluent in Russian, English, Spanish and Portuguese. 

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Chris is from Devon, in the south of England. He has been teaching English as a foreign language for over six years and has taught in China, the UK, Hungary and Spain. He has a background in Music and studied Composition at the RSAMD in Glasgow, Trinity Laban in London and at the University of York. After finishing his master’s at York, he travelled to China to teach and fell in love with it. He has been teaching ever since.

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