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Leadership Handicaps: 5 Surefire Signs You Can’t Be Trusted at the Helm

These bad habits ensure you won't be next in line to be the boss

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I’m a young professional with what I hope is a long, enriching career journey ahead of me. However, I’ve found that in the somewhat short time I’ve been a certified 9-to-5er, I’ve learned the best lessons by:

1. Making mistakes.

2. Observing the bad habits of others and evaluating the fallout of those habits.

Maybe it’s the Capricorn in me or simply because I’ve always been uber-nosey observant, but there are a few common things I’ve noticed throughout my more than 10 years as a working professional that have led to major breakdowns in communication and leadership (and ultimately failure in other areas).

I’ve come up with the following list of red flags that might raise more than an eyebrow, especially if you’re in a leadership or management position, whether on a small or large scale. These side-eye invoking infractions might essentially make the chances of one ever becoming a dynamic leader who people trust quite slim:

1. You’re too chatty. This includes those with diarrhea of the mouth and little control over the information they share, whether with a stranger, coworker or superior. People trust those who are not shady or too guarded, but know how to guard their tongues and use discernment in giving out information. They listen more than they talk. Leadership expert and Forbes contributor expands on this, writing, “Leaders who listen are able to create trustworthy relationships that are transparent and breed loyalty. You know the leaders who have their employees’ best interests at heart because they truly listen to them.”

2. You take too many things personal. It’s true: In today’s post-recessionary business climate, many things in business have become personal. However, if you’re one to get upset about every little slight (a missed e-mail; a co-worker who didn’t say, ‘Good morning’; a bad review from your boss), you’re probably last in line for that next leadership post. Leaders have to be at their best, both physically and mentally. And with reports that indicate 77% of employees experience physical symptoms from stress such as heart problems, and that stressed employees cost employers nearly twice as much in health-care costs, you can’t afford to fret over every workplace infraction.

3. You consistently show up, but don’t show out. All leaders I admire go the extra mile. There’s that above-average factor about their efforts, whether it’s in execution or planning. People who are impassioned about do (and that energy fuels awesome, quantitative fruits of their labor) are able to motivate others to do the same. Also, people who don’t just accept the average or common way of approaching something are often better leaders. “If you want to create a truly outstanding product or service, you need to be thinking a step ahead of the pack,” Art Markman, a cognitive psychologist and author of Smart Thinking: Three Essential Keys to Solve Problems, Innovate and Get Things done, told Entrepreneur.com

4. You are comfortable with your knowledge, experiences or circles not being diverse. In many industries—such as healthcare and financial services—this can literally short-circuit your route to success. With the advent of technological advancements literally happening by the minute, keeping up with the latest trends and constantly upgrading one’s knowledge is key in order to remain marketable. Also, the business landscape is global, so anyone looking to move up the ranks in a company will inevitably come across a diversity of personalities, ethnicities and generations. Leaders have to be comfortable navigating these experiences successfully, but if you haven’t diversified your circle, experiences or knowledge base, who can trust you’ll be able to do that?

5. You do not value yourself, your time or your advancement. Ever actually like being around someone who’s unhealthy both physically and mentally? Ever actually have a dynamic, life-changing conversation with someone who isn’t engaged in the community around them or who could care less about anything that’s going on in the world? Ever trust what they say or do in terms of business? I don’t.

If you don’t value you—literally the most prized possession you have and are responsible for—why should someone trust you to value and work for the advancement of a staff or the bottom line of a major company? Legendary boxer Muhammad Ali comes to mind as an example of how self-love can move mountains in terms of leadership. Though in his prime he may have been seen by some as arrogant, as a leader, he was super-confident, kept his body in shape, stood up for what he believes, and gained supporters from those self-loving traits alone. I could name countless other leaders who exemplify this and are almost intoxicating in that one will be drawn to them simply because they have a healthy self-love. (A mentor of mine taught me a great lesson with this when she turned down a meeting because she’d scheduled time to go to the spa. She said, “If I’m not centered, how can I properly close a deal. Frazzled and stressed out at a client meeting? That’s not hot.”)

If you’ve found yourself making one (or all) of the above mistakes—trust me, I know I have—find ways to remedy those habits. Invest in leadership development resources and learn how to reverse attitudes that lead to distrust and sabotage your chances of one day being a successful boss.

What other traits lead to distrust in terms of advancement into leadership? #Soundoff and follow me on Twitter @JPHazelwood.

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