• Cindy Saunders | Leaders Rise

Breaking Bad Leadership Habits

All big things come from small beginnings.


The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision but as that decision is repeated, the habit sprouts and grows stronger. Roots entrench themselves and branches grow.


Some people set out for leadership. They want to be in a leadership role and take charge. Other people find themselves in leadership roles reluctantly.


They don’t necessarily see themselves as leaders, but circumstances or necessity dictate that they’ve got to step up and lead. Either way, both potential leaders bring more than positive skills to the plate.


All of their habits tag along right beside them.


The task of breaking a bad habit is like uprooting a powerful oak within us. And the task of building a good habit is like cultivating a delicate flower one day at a time. James Clear


Breaking bad habits can make you a better leader.


Breaking bad habits does more than reduce the negativity in your life, it molds you into a better and more effective leader.



Here’s how:


Losing a bad habit is one thing, but what you learn in the process is a secondary benefit. Dropping the bad habit itself is valuable but overcoming the mindset and behaviors that accompany the bad habit is the real payoff.


Here are 3 bad habits you can break that will make you a better leader:


1. Break the Complaining Habit


Complaining is a form of passive aggression and has no place in a leader’s tool kit; it is an immature way to manage stress. Sure, recognizing that something isn’t right is important. Analyzing things for their merit matters. But going on and on about it without making changes accomplishes nothing.


Venting has its place in the right context but complaining wears people out and creates tension. Finding solutions to whatever needs to be changed is the answer.


Great leaders don’t complain about things, they tackle them and do what needs to be done.


2. Break the Gossiping Habit


The fastest way to sabotage your leadership is to gossip. Talking about others behind their backs doesn’t do anyone any good. Those that gossip and make others look bad to make themselves look good only make themselves look bad!


If you have a habit of talking about people to other people, you will obliterate the trust within your team, family, or community.

  • Avoid gossip by refusing to speak negatively about others as part of your personal standard.

  • Avoid gossip in groups by removing yourself from conversations that include gossip.

  • Spread positive gossip by assuming the “best” intentions about people and commenting!


3. Break the Avoidance Habit


Leaders get things done. That’s usually why they’re leaders!


Leaders don’t wait to be told what needs to be done. They recognize and see what needs to be taken care of and take initiative to do it. If something is difficult, they find help. If something is too complicated, they seek guidance.


Leaders don’t procrastinate and they don’t avoid anything. This includes:

  • Avoiding tasks

  • Avoiding difficult conversations

  • Avoiding challenges


Dropping the avoidance habit helps make leaders more consistent and effective. Taking action builds trust in your leadership.


By focusing on a framework that includes understanding your cues, cravings, responses, and rewards, you can get 1% better EVERY day in the areas we desire change.

  • What triggers the complaining, gossiping, or avoidance habits?

  • What is going on behind the scenes or “under the hood”?

  • How can you begin to take incremental steps to address these habits?

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Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.


“We change bit by bit, day by day, habit by habit.

We are continually undergoing microevolutions of the self.

Each habit is like a suggestion: ‘Hey, maybe this is who I am.’


If you finish a book, then perhaps you are the type of person who likes reading.

If you go to the gym, then perhaps you are the type of person who likes to exercise.

If you practice playing the guitar, perhaps you are the type of person who likes music.


No single instance will transform your beliefs but as the votes build up,

so does the evidence of your new identity.” James Clear


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