Habit # 1: They see themselves and their companies as dominating their environment
This first habit may be the most insidious, since it appears to be highly desirable. Shouldn’t a company try to dominate its business environment, shape the future of its markets and set the pace within them? Yes, but there’s a catch. Unlike successful leaders, failed leaders who never question their dominance fail to realize they are at the mercy of changing circumstances. They vastly overestimate the extent to which they actually control events and vastly underestimate the role of chance and circumstance in their success.
Warning Sign for #1: A lack of respect
Habit #2: They identify so completely with the company that there is no clear boundary between their personal interests and their corporation’s interests
Like the first habit, this one seems innocuous, perhaps even beneficial. We want business leaders to be completely committed to their companies, with their interests tightly aligned with those of the company. But digging deeper, you find that failed executives weren’t identifying too little with the company, but rather too much. Instead of treating companies as enterprises that they needed to nurture, failed leaders treated them as extensions of themselves. And with that, a “private empire” mentality took hold.
Warning Sign for #2: A question of character
Habit #3: They think they have all the answers
Here’s the image of executive competence that we’ve been taught to admire for decades: a dynamic leader making a dozen decisions a minute, dealing with many crises simultaneously, and taking only seconds to size up situations that have stumped everyone else for days. The problem with this picture is that it’s a fraud. Leaders who are invariably crisp and decisive tend to settle issues so quickly they have no opportunity to grasp the ramifications. Worse, because these leaders need to feel they have all the answers, they aren’t open to learning new ones.
Warning Sign for #3: A leader without followers
Habit #4: They ruthlessly eliminate anyone who isn’t completely behind them
CEOs who think their job is to instill belief in their vision also think that it is their job to get everyone to buy into it. Anyone who doesn’t rally to the cause is undermining the vision. Hesitant managers have a choice: Get with the plan or leave.
The problem with this approach is that it’s both unnecessary and destructive. Leaders don’t need to have everyone unanimously endorse their vision to have it carried out successfully. In fact, by eliminating all dissenting and contrasting viewpoints, destructive leaders cut themselves off from their best chance of seeing and correcting problems as they arise. Sometimes leaders who seek to stifle dissent only drive it underground. Once this happens, the entire organization falters.
Warning Sign for #4: Executive departures
Habit #5: They are consummate spokespersons, obsessed with the company image
You know these CEOs: high-profile executives who are constantly in the public eye. The problem is that amid all the media frenzy and accolades, these leaders’ management efforts become shallow and ineffective. Instead of actually accomplishing things, they often settle for the appearance of accomplishing things.
Behind these media darlings is a simple fact of executive life: CEOs don’t achieve a high level of media attention without devoting themselves assiduously to public relations. When CEOs are obsessed with their image, they have little time for operational details.
Warning Sign of #5: Blatant attention-seeking
Habit #6: They underestimate obstacles
Part of the allure of being a leader is the opportunity to espouse a vision. Yet, when leaders become so enamored of their vision, they often overlook or underestimate the difficulty of actually getting there. And when it turns out that the obstacles they casually waved aside are more troublesome than they anticipated, these leaders have a habit of plunging full-steam into the abyss.
Warning Sign of #6: Excessive hype
Habit #7: They stubbornly rely on what worked for them in the past
Many Leaders on their way to becoming spectacularly unsuccessful accelerate their company’s decline by reverting to what they regard as tried-and-true methods. In their desire to make the most of what they regard as their core strengths, they cling to a static business model.They insist on providing a product to a market that no longer exists, or they fail to consider innovations in areas other than those that made the company successful in the past.
Instead of considering a range of options that fit new circumstances, they use their own careers as the only point of reference and do the things that made them successful in the past.
Warning Sign of #7: Constantly referring to what worked in the past
The bottom line: If you exhibit several of these traits, now is the time to stamp them out from your repertoire. If your boss or several senior executives at your company exhibit several of these traits, now is the time to start looking for a new job.