11 things all great leaders never do (and what they do instead)

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Great leaders are often called upon to take action and confront difficult challenges. 

This takes grit and creative problem solving. 

It also means knowing how to lead and what to do when the pressure is on. 

Here are the most important things all great leaders never do (and what they do instead).

1) Pass the blame

Great leaders don’t pass the blame. 

It might truly be somebody else’s fault, but they don’t focus on that.

In fact a great leader will sometimes even take the blame for a mistake or problem that they know for a fact is someone else’s fault. 


Because leaders are about results and about forward progress, not about vindictiveness or focusing on blame. 

Furthermore, they don’t like to pick out one person and emphasize how they screwed up, because in many cases this can fracture the strength of a team and lead to a bitter cycle of recriminations. 

There will be times when blame is necessary and punishment or consequences are called for, but whenever possible, a great leader focuses on solutions rather than on calling out wrongdoers. 

And when they mess up, they own it.

The great leader never passes the blame. Instead, they focus on moving forward and keeping people focused on the mission.

2) Procrastinate

The next of the things all great leaders never do (and what they do instead) is procrastinate. 

Far too many great ideas and projects are left to waste away because of procrastination. 

Planning ahead and getting your ducks in a row is one thing. 

Having a solid team you can rely on and partners you can trust is another key. 

But sitting around procrastinating and making excuses is something a truly worthy leader doesn’t allow him or herself to do.


The great leader never procrastinates. Instead, they focus on executing their plan one step at a time without excuses. 

3) Daydream

Next up in things great leaders avoid is daydreaming. 

There’s a time for planning and envisioning the future and big plans. That’s important. 

But daydreaming is something else. 

Great leaders don’t lie in the meadow and think up their next business venture and then go back the next day and lie down again. 

If they do happen to be lounging somewhere and think of a great idea they start by writing it down, making a few calls and seeing if the idea has legs. 

A great leader doesn’t live in his or her imagination. 

They care about imagination and are deeply creative, but they never let inspiration and ideas remain solely in the realm of the imagination.

4) Play the victim

Great leaders don’t play the victim

If they are victimized, they face that head-on and try to resolve it. 

But they don’t consciously and intentionally pursue the role of a victim or seek to profit from being victimized. 

The reason is that even if this leads to getting what they want, it dishonors them and leads to a cycle of resentment and vindictiveness. 

The true leader doesn’t want to benefit from bitter energy, so he or she does not embrace a victim mentality.

Great leaders never play the victim. Instead, they focus on how to right the wrongs of victimhood and move forward with strength. 

5) Be jealous of success

Think about jealousy and what it means:

Jealousy is a feeling of resentment and sadness about wanting or needing something you don’t have. 

In other words, jealousy is weakness and stewing in weakness. 

A great leader doesn’t engage in jealousy, because anything he wants badly that he or she does not have, a leader is in the process of acquiring it. 

How can a leader be jealous of something they will soon achieve?

If anything they are happy to see that it’s possible for others, because it reassures the great leader that they, too, will soon be at that level. 

Great leaders don’t get jealous. Instead of coveting what they don’t have, they focus on achieving it. 

6) Give in to paranoia

Next up in the things all great leaders never do (and what they do instead) is give in to paranoia. 

There are always those who are full of jealousy and plots, especially when somebody is succeeding. 

But a mature and responsible leader doesn’t focus on the threats against them. 

He or she focuses on the opportunities instead. 

If security needs to be increased or measures have to be taken against saboteurs or enemies, so be it. 

But that’s never the focus. 

Great leaders don’t give in to paranoia. Instead, they focus on opportunities and allies rather than those who wish them harm or spread malicious gossip about them.

7) Try to tear others down

Great leaders focus on building people up.

They don’t try to tear others down. 

Even personal enemies, business rivals or folks who disrespect them are not a focus of a great leader. 

They try to fortify and strengthen all that they lead, rather than getting ahead or more power through control and sabotage. 

Great leaders don’t try to tear others down. Instead, they focus on creating the kind of future and groups that they want rather than zeroing in on those they dislike.

8) Focus on failures

Great leaders face their failures and are honest about the failures they see. 

But they don’t focus on it. 

Focusing on failure tends to create a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

You have to acknowledge problems to improve and to start over. But you don’t have to obsess about them. 

Great leaders are always focused on solutions more than on problems.

Great leaders don’t focus on failure. Instead, they acknowledge where they and others have fallen short and diagnose what can be done better moving forward. 

9) Play it safe

Great leaders never play it safe. 

There’s certainly a time for caution and not acting recklessly. 

But playing it safe leads exactly where you expect: to predictable, small-time results. 

Great leaders look before they jump whenever possible. 

But they’re able and willing to make big moves when they judge the time is right. 

Great leaders never play it safe. Instead, they take calculated risks and occasionally leaps of faith in pursuit of their dreams and goals. 

10) Play favorites

Great leaders don’t play favorites.

They recognize that any group of people has different skills and are better and worse at various things. 

Great leaders are able to help people reach their potential and tap into their specific talents. 

But they don’t play favorites or pick one person to like more than others or shower with favors. 

Whether a company, a government or a family, this only leads to bitterness and infighting.

Great leaders don’t favor or disfavor people who look up to them. Instead, they encourage everyone to develop their different talents to the full and help out others where they are weaker.

11) Encourage groupthink

Great leaders don’t like groupthink. 

This may sound contradictory at first:

Why would a leader want a bunch of individuals potentially disagreeing with each other, with him and with the mission he or she has in mind?

The reason is simple:

Great leaders don’t want robots or mindless followers. 

They want folks who voluntarily join up to their cause or mission and who are voluntarily committed to what the leader is leading. 

Having people who only do what they’re told because others are doing it may be useful in some situations like mass war mobilization, but at the end of the day it’s almost always a disaster. 

For one thing, when people only follow due to who everyone else following, they tend to barely believe in the mission to begin with and quickly lose steam if and when the leader is out of the picture. 

Great leaders don’t encourage groupthink. They want unity to occur naturally and voluntarily, rather than by force or by popularity.

The mark of a great leader

The mark of a great leader is taking responsibility and having a meaningful vision that they intend to see through. 

Bad leaders rule by fear or by emotional appeal and manipulation

Average leaders take charge by tradition or by their speaking and performing skills. 

Great leaders take the helm because of true competence and grand vision that actually matters in people’s lives. 

The mark of a great leader is ultimately somebody who lives for a mission greater than themselves and who is interested in leading in order to serve. 

The fact that this has become so rare is all the more evidence of how badly great leadership is needed today in our world. 

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