5 Things Every Leader Should Stop Doing Now

by | Articles, Leadership


With the increasing pressure to do more with less, the need bombards us to change how we think. To lead organizational change, you need to figure out what you should stop doing. The difficulty is that this process is more challenging than it appears.

For many of us, we must manage both up and down the chain of command. You may find yourself in an organization that is not ready for a communication approach that is vastly different than anyone has seen.

With the preponderance of senior leaders lacking leadership skills, my recommendations below may create the need for you to educate the leaders of your organization before employing them.

There are five things I believe all leaders should stop relenting to become more effective:

Best Practices

There exists no better example of herd mentality than that of best practices. A so-called best practice stops the minute it is branded as such. Best practices defend the status quo and limit innovation by ensuring people/processes follow the same practices.

You cannot distinguish by accepting likeness. The idea of best practice is nothing more than mixing norms at your peril. Wise leaders innovate beyond best practices, always looking for the next practices.

If your choice to do something is because others are doing it the same way, you are doing nothing more than conceding advantage and opportunity to those competitors more creative than you.

Lean manufacturing and most other recent initiatives, embraced by senior leaders, are focused on driving the organization towards best practices. In our rush to shortcut challenging work, we have conceded a competitive advantage.

To regain this advantage, we need to realize this and stop doing it. Do not copy, create.

Cost Cutting

It is impractical to beat your opposition to the future by spending less than they do. You get there first by investing smarter than they do. Companies that surpass their competition focus less on risk and more on opportunity.

They are less concerned with controlling expenditure and more about finding new ways to create a more significant return on investment. I have often promoted that a leader’s duty is not to leverage their people but to establish more leverage for them.

Stop expecting your people to do more with less and find ways to provide them with a resource advantage.

There is an enormous difference between cost-cutting haphazardly and reducing the budget by improving reliability. Stop imposing hiring freezes and begin an uncompromising pursuit of creating a talent advantage.

Leaders complaining about a lack of resources are doing nothing more than demonstrating their lack of resourcefulness.

Political Correctness

The fact is that politically correct thinking is most often deceitful, if not altogether intellectually dishonest. Politically correct thinking replaces uniqueness and authentic opinions with socially acceptable rhetoric and diluted behavioral tendencies.

I miss the days when most conversations consisted of highly charged and stimulating discourse where people were urged to share their thoughts and opinions openly. The irony of politically correct thinking is that a society empty of individual thought creates the reverse of diversity.

Politically correct thinking results in a programmed flock of sheep who completely lack diversity because of the gentrification of thoughts and actions. The sinister secret behind politically correct thinking is that it gradually clouds your senses and sterilizes your inherent capability to be discerning.

If you are like me, you do not want your team to say what they think you want to hear or what they believe they should say, but you do want them to say what they think.

How many meetings have you sat in where everyone sits around the table like a bunch of deer in headlights trying to figure out how to wiggle around an issue rather than address it head-on?

It is this type of issue that taints our culture, suppresses innovation, weakens our productivity, and condemns those who accept politically correct thinking to a life of mediocrity.

Glorifying the Few

Leadership is not a position or a title. It is not a job retained only for a few presiding over the masses. Here is something to keep in mind: if you tell people enough times or loud enough that they are not leaders, you must not be amazed when they begin to believe you.

Your job is not to repress people from leadership but to establish leadership ubiquity.

The most triumphant organizations are those where all team members view themselves as leaders. Leadership that cannot be transferrable, scalable, repeatable, and sustainable is not leadership. Build your organization on a foundation that builds leadership in all team members regardless of where they are on the org chart.

Unwillingness to Change

Look at any study on the speed of change, and you will find you are living in an unprecedented time. The rate of change is surpassing most leaders’ capability to learn and unlearn. Most leaders fight to remain current, much less find a way to move ahead of the curve.

Here is the thing: if leaders live in the past, their organizations will be required to travel an extremely rough road to the future.

The solution to the leadership training problem is to scrap it for development. Do not train leaders, mentor them, coach them, and develop them, but please do not train them.

Where training attempts to homogenize by blending into a norm and adapting to the status quo, development attempts to call out the unique and discriminate by shattering the status quo. Training is something leaders hate and will avoid, while they welcome development.

Development is nuanced, contextual, collaborative, fluid, and primarily actionable.

The reason it is crucial to stop doing things that do not add value is to free up the time you will need to start doing things right.

People always tell me, “This is great, but I do not have time to do what I am doing now.” I found myself in this same place before I realized that about half of what you are doing each day does not add value. Taking a critical look at your daily activities will open your eyes. How many meetings do you attend that have other members of your team in them? Why? How many meetings do you attend and say nothing? This goes on and on.

When I say this, I always hear, “Not me. Everything I do adds value.” Sorry, you are lying to yourself because that is not possible. The only way to make a change happen is to do something. To do something, you need time. To get the time, you must stop doing things that do not add value.

So, as a leader, you need to understand what adds value. The key to adding value is to take ownership and not use victim statements. Next, I want to explain what I mean by taking ownership and not being a victim.


  • Nathan Wright

    Founder and President, Transformational Performance Solutions LLC With 40 years of field experience and a doctorate in Organization, Development and Leadership Style, Nathan has a proven record of transforming organizations into revenue-producing powerhouses. He also helps corporate leaders develop their teams into top-caliber professionals, capable of effectively navigating and utilizing the tools available to them. Nathan’s proprietary coaching approach helps organizations achieve peak performance through leadership development, people development, maintenance and reliability, executive coaching, and strategic planning. The Wright Leadership® Program is a measurable leadership development approach based on real-world experience that increases productivity and reduces turnover and absenteeism.