Developing your leadership potential—or someone else’s—is often a matter of identifying and overcoming the common obstacles that prevent people from moving forward. Some are institutional; many are self-inflicted. Keep a lookout for these self-defeating behaviors:

  • Lack of goals. Good leaders have a firm vision of where they want to go and how they expect to get there.


  • Deceptive self-knowledge. Don’t try to fool yourself and others into thinking that you’re great at everything. Work on spotting your strengths and weaknesses so you can make plans and delegate accordingly.


  • Confused ethics. Second-rate leaders think and act as if the world has two sets of rules—one that applies to them and one for everyone else. You’ll be more effective as a leader by holding to high ethical standards at work and elsewhere.


  • Selfishness. If you hoard information, resources, or time from others, they’ll learn to do the same, and nobody will be able to achieve important goals.


  • Ducking responsibility. As a leader, your job is to make decisions. Don’t try to avoid taking a stand and being accountable for your actions.


  • Negative thinking. Concentrate on the positive possibilities. Don’t assume the worst of every plan, or focus on people’s weaknesses and faults.