3 Killers of Leadership

The audacity of leadership is rooted in possibility, a bold stand for what could be.

Business in the 21st century needs audacious leaders who are willing to step away from the comfort of tried-and-true. Possibility is constrained by tried-and-true. Yet it’s unwise to turn one’s back on the past.

Between possibility and tried-and-true is a whole lot of gray. It takes leadership to guide us through the grays, to strike a balance between respect for what was and creating a spark to light the way to what could be. And the wiser leader is the one who can continue to light the way forward despite the foggy grayness that shrouds any path to a shared goal.

But this is a cautionary message.

Leadership is much more difficult than management. People don’t come with an Undo Button, or aren’t easily analyzed like a spreadsheet. In short we are unpredictable. This is precisely why your audacious leadership is necessary.

And it is up to each of us to mindfully not kill our leadership. These are three killers of leadership.


Set the tone for how you want people to interact and for what you want people to pay attention to. If you gossip then you’ve lowered the bar. You’ve signaled it’s okay to be distracted by meaningless information.

“Me against you” thinking

Conflict at work is good if it’s respectful and emerges to resolve differences. When conflict is allowed to be against a person and not against a problem the leader has lost control of creating an environment that unleashes talent.

Insistence on rightness

There’s no room for growth. There’s no listening. In fact there’s no room for anyone but the leader’s ego who insists on being right. This will limit possibility, the team, results, and obviously the leader.

Are there just three killers of leadership? That would be convenient. These three deplete relationships and exhaust people. The familiarity of tried-and-true overshadow possibility. Mediocrity becomes acceptable. Progress is strained. This is not acceptable to a New Era Leader.


Art courtesy of  Rupert Ganzer

Change Leader | Speaker | Writer Co-founder and CEO of Switch and Shift. Passionately explores the space where business & humanity intersect. Promoter of workplace optimism. Believes work can be a source of joy. Top ranked leadership blogger by Huffington Post. The Optimistic Workplace (AMACOM) out 2015

  • http://www.thecaremovement.com Al Smith

    Awesome Shawn. Love it. One of my favorite sayings is; “Do you want to be Happy or do you want to be Right” Great, short and to the point post. Thanks.


  • http://leadingwithtrust.com Randy Conley

    Shawn – Thanks for the reminder about our desire to be right is a leadership killer. Not only is it a leadership killer, it’s a relationship and trust killer as well. We forget that when we insist on always being “right” that leaves no alternative than other people being “wrong.” People don’t always like to be wrong, especially when they are right!

    Keep up the good work my friend.


  • http://www.vision30.com Jason Kiesau

    Great tips!

    Check out the book “What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There!” by Marshall Goldsmith. He does a nice job or laying out 20 similar traits that prevent leaders from taking things to the next level!

    Good stuff!

  • http://http//www.crunchseo.com Adi @ crunchseo

    Really nice post. As said, short and simple. I second that ego always comes in a way of effective leadership.

  • http://www.switchandshift.com Shawn Murphy

    As a recovering got-to-be right guy, I understand all too well what your favorite saying means. When I realized the limitations of my relationships due to my need to be right, I worked on redirecting that behavior. The results have been so encouraging.

    As always, Al, thank you for your support and CARE.

  • http://www.switchandshift.com Shawn Murphy

    Hi Randy,
    Good additions to the unfortunate outcomes for the need to be right. It’s hard to lead when most want to run the other way or look away.

    I appreciate your support, Randy.

  • http://www.switchandshift.com Shawn Murphy

    Hi Jason,
    Good suggestion. It’s on my bookshelf cued up for me to read. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

  • http://www.switchandshift.com Shawn Murphy

    Hi Adi,
    Thank you for swinging by to read and comment. We appreciate you.

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