Three Leadership Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

The main reason why a leader falls comes from their inward life. This is because a leader’s inward life shows through in their attitude and behaviors. If not carefully protected or guarded out inward life can lead us to a collapsible failure. Below are three leadership pitfalls and some practical ways to avoid them:

1. Faulty Character-

A leader who has faulty character is prone to make unwise and unethical choices. You can become a successful leader with weak character but if you want to sustain your success it requires strong character and integrity. This is because a faulty character eventually leads to a leader’s downfall. Turn on the news and you will hear about many leaders who have fallen because of weak character.

Leadership expert and author Warren Bennis said, “Successful leadership is not about being tough or soft, sensitive or assertive, but about a set of attributes. First and foremost is character.” To maintain a high level of character I suggest following your core beliefs and values no matter the situation or circumstances. Settle with yourself that you will not compromise when it comes to areas of your core. Also chose to live by the Golden Rule.

2. Pride-

Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction.” Pride is dangerous because it causes a leader to think they are better than they actually are. They see themselves through an unrealistic lens. Pride can:

  • Prevent you from learning, changing, and moving into your potential. It causes you to think you have “arrived” in your knowledge and abilities.
  • Bring division between yourself and your people. It can prevent you from seeing things through their viewpoint or perspective.
  • Cause you to make unwise, uncalculated, and high risk decisions which affect yourself and your organization. They think they are a modern day superman.

To prevent pride become self-aware of your inward thoughts and personal talents (both strengths and weaknesses). Daily clothe yourself with humility and adapt a servant mindset.

3. Un-managed emotions-

When a leader is not able to control their emotions they allow current feelings to dictate their attitude and actions. This causes a leader to be driven by emotions and not the team or organizations purpose, goals, or vision. A leader with unmanaged emotions will have a hard time leading self and others well.

To control your emotions requires knowing and understanding your current emotional state then using your emotions for a positive result. Become aware of anything that might prevent you from controlling your emotions. This can happen when you don’t receive enough of what you’re personally need, like food, sleep, or relaxation. Even the best leaders have the potential to not manage their emotions when they forsake what they need. Be intentional about Developing Emotional Intelligence.

Question: Can you add to the list? What are some other leadership pitfalls?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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51 thoughts on “Three Leadership Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

  1. This might be close to “pride” but it can also be a little different. I would add “independence”, this can be a pitfall when leaders become too independent and stopping seeking counsel from trusted friends, stop delegating tasks and rely on themselves to get the job done.

  2. Trust. A good leader must trust those whom he leads. A lack of faith in your followers abilities will lead to a control freak attitude. And in return, that will only lead to an erosion of the followers faith in you.

  3. Dan,

    Great article! I would take point number one a step further. I submit that character determines integrity or a lack thereof! If you do not have integrity you cannot be trusted.

  4. Great post, Dan. I agree completely. Always seeking to be better and learning might be one to add, but the character issue is key to all things and all people.

  5. Yesterday, a bunch of my friends told me how proud they were of me as a father to my daughter. Although I appreciate compliments, I have to respond humbly. Humility is a strength.

  6. The Un-managed emotions is huge. The reason is because if your emotions are not in tact you are correct you can’t lead others much less yourself. It takes you to have unshakable character and emotions in order to Lead others because they will be looking to you to Lead them.

  7. Wow, pride is such a killer. It is the source of virtually every other problem we have in life. And it’s not something that we can just turn off like a switch. It’s a continual battle to be humble.

  8. I think the three you have pretty much covers everything. I think that being an uncaring leaders, which would probably fall under “faulty character”, can be called out by itself. You have to show people that you care for their interests, personally and professionally.

  9. HI Dan – this is a good list. I think I’d add dishonesty, lack of awareness (including SELF awareness) and poor communication. Good leaders must be great communicators – I have personal experience of a leader who just doesn’t communicate effectively and causes chaos, frustration and confusion. I also agree with Bernard’s point about lack of vision.

    • Hello Sue,

      Great additions. All three are important when it comes to leading well. I think your point about self awareness is so huge. A leader must be able to know and lead self if they want to lead others well. Thank you for reading and sharing.

  10. Hello Dan great post, having a faulty character will surely destroy ones leadership because there’s no real truth behind that leader.

    There’re so many things a leader should have in order for people to respect him or her, and the ones you’ve listed should be at the top of the list.

    Hey Dan off topic have you tried the Commentluv plugin? I think you would love it.

    Have a wonderful day my friend.

    • Hi Rob,

      It sure does. I have seen many leader fall because of having weak character. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

      I’ve never tried it but will check it out. Thank you for the recommendation.

  11. Dan, i like your opening statement (and the picture!) “The main reason why a leader falls comes from their inward life.” It often feels easier to look outward, to blame or point fingers. Yet so often these outward things are just triggers, they reveal who we truly are on the inside.

    • Ha, pride does that:) At least your self aware enough to see it. I have found that’s a huge advantage when it comes to dealing with pride or our self’s. Thank you for your honesty.

  12. Character always comes through in the end. I’ve worked with people in the past who seem to succeed despite poor character – but you have to remind yourself that it will catch up to them – and focus on making sure your character & integrity is solid.

  13. hey Dan – I’d say selfishness and arrogance are two additional pitfalls of leadership. Selfishness probably falls more on the line of greed which you talk about below. Success leaders usually give and share but some fail to do that and care more about themselves and their egos. Arrogance is when leaders fail to be accountable to people or actions around them.

    I work in politics Dan so have seen both extremes in habits/characteristics of leaders. Why do some leaders possess all the good characteristics and others all the pitfalls? haha

    • Hello Vishnu,

      Great additions. Those two can really hurt a leader. We have to watch out and guard against them.

      That’s a good question. I think many things come into play when it comes to a persons character. One element is how they where raised growing up, our environment and association growing up has the potential to determine the character we have as adults. For example if someone is raised with abusive parents then it can be harder not to be abusive as adults, because it’s part of the persons family tree/past example of how to act. But no matter what it’s about making the choice to do right and good no matter our life story or circumstance. Does that make sense? Maybe I’ll try and tackle this topic more in a future post.

  14. Hi Dan,

    Very good points and there are limitations involves with each attributes, no? :) I like the image you have added here, it’s a very good real World example.

    I have experiences of people that end up with nothing due to pride. As I see, pride starts to rule their mind with positive compliments or over-confidence and it goes on and on until they understand they gonna fall sooner. Pride is dangerous enough :) However there are people achieve more to earn more pride too, but yet it’s an overwhelming journey. I’d like to add “Humility” there :)

    Lack of knowledge and communication are two more I’d like to add Dan :) I think different people tend to define leadership in different ways, but actions speak louder. Isn’t it?

    Many people want to be a leader at least secretly and think leader is the one who manage or control others, but I truly believe leaders are servants and willing to accept obstacles for the sake of others while guiding. Well, general term is helping 😉


    • Hello Mayura De Silva,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

      Pride is a huge reason why so many people/leaders eventually fall. Having Humility is so important to have, I have found it’s a daily choice we need to make.

      Great addition, I totally agree that knowledge and communication are two reasons why a person/leader fails. Both are essential if we want to gain influence with others.

      Great points about needing to serve and stay humble. I like your mindset, I know it will lead you down a good path toward your dreams and success. Thank you for taking the time to read and add to the conversation.

  15. Anyone who thinks – “I would/could never do that negative behavior.” If we lose our sense of humanness, the idea or concept that we too could become corrupted if we failed to keep our guard up. Any of us if we lose our sense of true purpose can stumble.

    • You bring up such an important point. Anyone has the potential to fall into the above or other pitfalls. It reminds me of psalms 1 “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers.” It’s a progression. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

  16. Hi Dan,

    I just love, love, love this post. :)

    Bible said, the wise man take heed with an advice but the fool does not listen! It’s very important to have that CORE in your soul. Because without that your foundation can fall apart. You’re like a walking light bulb ready to be screwed anytime.

    Guess like the bible illustrates, great leaders are great followers! Leaders create another leader. And they’re not there to be your boss! but they are there to NAVIGATE you, to supervise you, to LEAD you in the right path. Without criticism GREAT leaders just know how to nurture their followers!! Anyway, it’s pass my bedtime. I wish you a great week!!


    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the post Angela McCall.

      Great Biblical illustration.It’s so important for leaders to get advice from others. It allows them to excel forward and make the right choices. Great thoughts. Thank you for reading and adding to the discussion.

      I’m looking forward to reading your blog and connecting more with you.

  17. Dan, this post is filled with so much truth. I wish every leader would read it! The one thing I would add is accountability. As soon as a leader thinks they aren’t accountable to anyone else, there’s trouble afoot. I love the point about staying on top of emotions. That’s huge for me. I love your blog and I’m subscribing!

    • Hello Melanie,

      Great addition. Accountability is so essential for avoiding these and other pitfalls as well as moving toward success. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I appreciate it.

  18. Hi Dan,

    First off your Twitter @username is not at the end of this post when I tried to tweet it on Twitter. I thought I’d mention to you just in case you don’t know. If people are sharing this and you don’t have your Twitter username at the end, you will never know they are sharing this. I have to put your username manually @ end of Twitter sharing this.

    You know I believe what you believe. Some of the people who will not compromise their “INTEGRITY” are the strongest people on planet earth. Storms and hurricanes might come but they will never get uprooted. Some people will even DIE for what they believe. They would rather die than give up on what they really believe. Strong in character, yes!

    Anyone who is PRIDEFUL will fall. It’s better to be humble even when your blog takes off. Stays the SAME in character. Know when you’re down there. Know when you’re up there. That’s probably why God hasn’t given what other people want because they are really not ready to accept the blessings. First, the character must be established. The world says “trust yourself.” The bible says, “Do not trust yourself and rely on God.” The world says, “Listen to your heart…” On the other hand the bible says, “The heart is desperately wicked who can know it?”

    As far as EMOTION is concerned, we are entitled to our emotions. But some emotions such as “anger” can be deadly and detrimental to our health. It can cause high blood pressure and even cancer sometimes! Some researchers have proven that “unforgiveness” can cause CANCER. When God says, “Be angry but do not sin…let your wrath go down upon the sunset” or something like that. Cannot remember word for word but the context is the same. It’s okay to be angry but DO NOT be destructive like screaming on top of your lungs, or breaking things in the house, or pulling a knife on someone! Be angry…but GET OVER IT quick. Do not hold any resentment. The reason why they call this “resentment” is…”RE” means over and over. Get over it quick or it’ll eat you alive!

    Thanks for a great post, Dan. Have a great week!!!


    • Hello Angela,

      Thank you for letting me know about the sharing/Twitter issue. Do you know how to change it?

      Great point about staying humble even when our blogs take off or we see success. Becoming prideful will only hurt us. I have found being closely connected with God helps me/us stay humble and away from prideful thinking.

      Great example in your second paragraph. Great passage! Thank you for adding to the topic:) Your amazing!