Why you’ll never succeed at leadership


  • You micromanage
  • You pick the right words at the wrong time
  • You lack substance
  • You don’t lead by example

Micromanaging is definitely a favorite for some leaders out there. Particularly those who can’t let go of ownership. It’s a symptom of leaders who have been burned by incompetent workers. It’s also just a symptom of someone with control issues. If you don’t know whether you’re a micromanager or not, ask. You might be surprised to find out that some people in your team say yes while others so no. What you can do about it is gear yourself towards outsourcing, delegating, and trusting those around you to do their job. Look for members of the team who seem ambitious. They make prime targets for responsibility.

Picking the right words at the wrong time…this one takes the cake. Have you ever heard a joke that was too soon? A joke that was off putting? How about a speech in a rainstorm (not making it up)?!? No kidding, I’ve had leaders in the military try to give us all a hoorah type of speech with a hurricane minutes away, buses waiting to take us to the airport, and bags that still need to be loaded. You’ve never contemplated life choices as hard as I did in those moments. Don’t be that leader! Picking words carefully is important but it’s definitely important to pick them at the right time.

Lacking substance as a leader is when your troopers feel like they’re talking to a robot. If you’re an engineer, I’m talking to you. Not everything requires your logic. Sometimes you need to laugh, crack a smile, be at the hang out spots after work, and show everyone you’re human. Do you know what it’s like working for an android? Your peers might.

Lastly, and definitely the mother of all bad habits, not leading by example. The next sentence you read is the most foundational building block of leadership. Practice what you preach. Would you take health tips from someone who is obese? Would you respect a monk who gambles? Would you take marriage advice from Adam the adulterer? Again, don’t be that leader! If you like to tell your people how it is…then make sure if they audit your work it’s crossed T’s and dotted I’s. Otherwise, you will be as effective at leadership as a fish is at climbing trees.