When we become parents, we tell ourselves we won’t make the same mistakes our parents made; similarly, most leaders start out by telling themselves they won’t make the same mistakes they’ve seen other leaders make.  And just as with parenting, it’s easier said than done.

Great leadership is not only about successfully executing positive leadership behavior.  Just as important is preventing predictable negative behavior.  One concept that is core to what we teach in the Doubledare Academy Leadership Development Program is that you the increase leadership success by decreasing leadership mistakes.

Bad leadership practices tend to fall under the 80/20 rule: 80% of leadership mistakes are preventable with the right attitude and enough effort, while 20% are not changeable.  The three leadership factors that are not changeable are raw talent, raw I.Q., and core personality.  But even if we cannot change the core facts about ourselves, there are things we can do through a combination of education, effort, and a change in attitude.

Successful leadership is not just the result of deploying positive leadership behaviors.  Just as important is avoiding the negative.  The toll that negative leadership behavior takes can be potentially devastating no matter how many good strategies you might use. Sometimes a single mistake as a leader can be so destructive that all the good things you’ve done are undone.  Peter Drucker has a great quote about this: “We spend a lot of time teaching leaders what to do. We don’t spend enough time teaching leaders what to stop. Half the leaders I have met don’t need to learn what to do. They need to learn what to stop.” Our philosophy is to increase leadership success by decreasing leadership mistakes.

My experience is that if you take the most charismatic leader who is prone to these mistakes and put them side-by-side with someone who does not have leadership charisma but who does not make these mistakes, I would put my money on the leader who does not make these mistakes. It’s that important.

While most of us can behave better than we feel, many smart, talented people fail at this.  Over the next several weeks, I’m going to focus on the six big mistakes that are the most destructive and statistically have the biggest role in leadership problems. These can be changed, and I am going to give you some strategies for fixing them. They are:

  1. Excuses
  2. Bad manners
  3. Ego
  4. Lying
  5. Loose cannon tendencies
  6. Bad attitude

Tune in next week as we dive into the destructive nature of leadership excuses and how to fix them.  If you find you just can’t wait, shoot me an e-mail at Scott@doubledareyou.us; we can set up a time to talk about improving your leadership performance by eliminating these destructive behaviors. And if you’re interested, here is a collection of some past leadership posts.

photo credit: amdubois01 Northern Watersnake via photopin (license)