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What’s the difference between a weak leader and a strong leader? It’s evident in their mindset and daily actions. Here are five signs you’re a weak leader and how to overcome them to be a strong and successful leader:

You ignore criticism

Weak leaders aren’t willing to listen to what other people have to say, especially when it isn’t positive. Weak leaders turn a blind eye to anything negative about them or their company and often make excuses to cover it up. They don’t create opportunities for the people around them to make suggestions or give feedback.

Charlie Young, CEO of Synergy HomeCare Franchising, says the key to leadership is listening and asking everyone for ideas about what the company and its leaders should keep doing, stop doing, and start doing. “What’s key here is listening to the feedback from your team, analyzing the data, and then determining the best course of action. But it all starts with listening.”

You take feedback personally

When weak leaders do listen to feedback, they take it personally and don’t use it to change their life or leadership style. The feedback falls on deaf ears or turns into a negative experience that hurts the relationship between the leader and the other person.

You let your emotions control your decisions

Weak leaders let the ups and downs of their emotions dictate their decisions and mood. They tend to blow up and act irrationally when things are difficult instead of taking time to calm down, control their feelings, and move forward with a measured response. Employees never know the mood of their leader or if they will explode at any moment.

Melissa Reiff, former CEO of the Container Store, told me this about consistent communication: “Communication is Leadership. They are the same thing. Practicing consistent, reliable, effective, thoughtful, predictable, compassionate, and courteous communication every single day is essential in growing and sustaining a successful business.”

You focus on numbers more than people

Weak leaders are more focused on numbers and quarterly reports than their people. They view their employees as workers instead of individuals and tend to start each meeting or email with updates about changes to KPIs. They don’t build relationships with their employees because they are too focused on moving the needle on metrics.

Harvard Business School professor, author, and former SVP at Uber Frances Frei, puts it this way: “Leadership isn’t about you, it is about other people. Leaders should walk into a room and not want everyone to be thinking about them as a leader, but the leader should be the one thinking of everyone else and how to set those people up for success.”

You blame other people

Things don’t always go right in a business, and weak leaders are quick to point the blame toward other people. Instead of focusing on learning opportunities and teaching moments, weak leaders shame people and often publicly call them out for making mistakes. Weak leaders don’t take responsibility for their errors but instead push it onto other people and create a culture that discourages experimentation, innovation, and autonomy.

Weak leaders burn out and limit their opportunities to grow and make a difference. If you put in the work to develop the skills and mindsets of a strong leader, you can lead your company and your people to great success.


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