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Monica Wofford, CSP, is a leadership development expert and author of Contagious Leadership and newly released, Make Difficult People Disappear.

What do you see or say when you look in the mirror?

Great leaders succeed because they avoid these five things. Leaders with great potential fail when they do these five things. Why do they fail? Because these five behaviors create stress, conflict, sabotage, disengagement, and a lack of respect. If your goal is to be a great leader, here’s what NOT to do:


There is always a way to tell the truth at the right time and for the right reasons. Not everyone will like it, but they will at least be able to take action on accurate information. Lying is one of the key elements that will also create difficult team members AND leaders.

Make Inappropriate Assumptions

Making assumptions is part of how we operate. We assume things like cars will stop at lights and lions can’t break the glass window at the zoo, but when we’re wrong the consequences can be deadly. When leaders assume what we said was clear, they knew what I meant, or that our assumptions about the look on their face is dead on or they meant to make us mad, the outcomes can be just as deadly to the respect level a leader earns from the team.

Fail to Communicate

If a leader expects mind reading and crystal balls they’re better off at the circus. Failing to share expectations, consequences, rewards, outcomes, and vision will lead to failure of a team to meet, exceed, or excel in any or all of those areas.

Avoid Tough Conversations

Much as I would recommend hiring slow and firing fast, employee development is not always focused on what they do well. It is not always fun, nor easy to talk about getting better, stopping certain actions or behaviors, or that a role has changed and that person’s skill sets are no longer a fit. Ignoring those makes the tough stuff expand and leader effectiveness shrivel.

Disrespect Yourself

What you will say to yourself, in your head or in the mirror, will always find a way to creep out when talking with others. If you don’t like yourself or have a lower than average self-esteem, it will negatively impact how you treat others and inhibit your ability to lead.

The question to ask before doing any of these five things is whether you want to be a great leader or merely a leader everyone thought would be great. The choice is always yours to make and the actions always your choice to take.

Have a great Monday, an even better week and of course, stay contagious!

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