Best Boss Minute | The Top 8 Things a Leader Shouldn’t Do (Part 1)

Today’s Question: 

“Thanks for all the recommendations on what leaders SHOULD do. Now, tell us what are the things leaders SHOULD NOT do?”

— Need to Know in Nashville

In the next four Best Boss Minutes, I’ll share the top eight things that good leaders should never do. Today we’ll focus on lack of integrity and lack of empathy.

Lack of Integrity

Leaders who are dishonest, break promises or act unethically will quickly lose the trust and respect of their followers. Ask yourself — what is your level of integrity? 

First, keep in mind the acronym DAYSYWD – Do As You Say You Will Do. Make that emblazoned on your forehead and always do what you say you will do. 

Next, aspire to be the leader you admire most. Keep that person in mind as you’re going through your day-to-day grind of being a Best Boss, manager and leader. This will really help with the integrity of your work.

And finally, remember what your grandma told you – think before you speak. A great strategy to incorporate as a leader is practicing the pause. As people are speaking with you, acknowledge what they say, repeat it back to them, and then pause before you speak. This one simple strategy can make all the difference.

Lack of Empathy

A leader who is unresponsive to the needs and feelings of their team members may be seen as cold, distant and uncaring. Here are three things that will help you build up your empathy muscle.

First, don’t mix empathy up with sympathy. Sympathy is feeling sorry for somebody. Empathy is feeling with somebody. Check out this video from Brené Brown on empathy versus sympathy. It’s a great reminder. You might even want to share it with your team to emphasize the importance of empathizing not sympathizing.

Next, remember this quote from Anaïs Nin: “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” Use it as a reality check to appreciate when you’re interacting with somebody that you are looking at and interpreting through your own lens. This can make it difficult to be objective. As you’re building up your empathy muscle, keep in mind that your Judge is going to be running rampant about what you say and what you do. So keep this quote in mind.

And lastly, be a curious anthropologist. As you lean into empathy with another person, keep in mind what an anthropologist does – they are always looking deeper. I’m a big fan of the phrases “Isn’t that fascinating?” or “Isn’t that interesting?” and “Tell me more.” All three of those are close cousins of each other and are great entries into being empathetic. Be curious all the time. Look for the Sage in people – the deeper, wiser inner part of themselves. It’s there. It’s just a matter of how you get to it.

Next time we’ll talk about micromanagement and poor communication. Stay tuned!

About Danny

With over 20 years experience in training and leadership development  — and holding an MBA and an MA in Organizational Development — Danny Ceballos has worked with organizations across the country to strengthen their effectiveness in leading and managing others through supervision+motivation best practices and strategies.