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Leadership Thought #485 – The Rules Don’t Apply to Me Syndrome

April 20, 2017

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I often observe many leaders who think they are the exception to the rule.  Maybe in some regards they are, but not across the board.  Moreover, not all exceptions are created equal or warrant consideration.  There are some obvious rules of personal and business behavior that we should all respect or at least take heed of:

  • Working too much and ignoring your family will have personal consequences.
  • Constantly multi-tasking and not focusing on any one thing will hinder your ability to concentrate effectively in the moment and potentially lead to you missing something important.
  • Wearing too many hats because you are too cheap to invest in talent WILL catch up with you.
  • Paying people less than market value will decrease employee morale and increase turnover, usually at inopportune times.
  • Using debt to pay yourself money the current economic model cannot deliver will create financial problems for the business.
  • Not paying your vendors on time and playing financial games with creditors usually has a limited time horizon before you get figured out and suffer the relationship consequences.
  • Thinking that asking for help displays weakness will leave you vulnerable to what you do not know.
  • Playing your key people against one another could lead to unhealthy individual competitive behaviors if you are not careful.
  • Relying too much on your gut without some level of reasonable business analysis (especially on critical issues) will lower your hit rate and increase your risk.
  • Failing to innovate and change your products and services because you’d rather leave well enough alone will just create opportunities for your competition.
  • Giving your customers minimal feedback regarding your product/service development efforts can lead your business to deliver solutions the market doesn’t need and/or want.
  • Ignoring your personal censor button and saying whatever is on your mind whenever you want to say it will create more adversaries than allies.
  • Handing down mandates for everyone else to cut costs and be more efficient while you are practicing more spendthrift ways yourself will only build resentment and chase away talented staff that have other opportunities.
  • Thinking the only way to grow your business is through acquisition(s) will create internal and external challenges that become increasingly hard to navigate.
  • Putting your family members in positions they are ill-equipped to handle will only limit their credibility with other key people and minimize their chance of future success.
  • Expecting different professional behaviors from your employees than you are willing to exhibit yourself will hinder your credibility with them and others.


I could keep adding to this list, but you get the point.  There are some leadership fundamentals that are simply good common sense.  You don’t need a Harvard MBA to figure out the risk reward analysis of the behavior.  Of course, some people do defy the odds, but most of us won’t thrive given the same set of circumstances.  A leader’s job is to increase the probability of organizational success through sound business judgment and empowering behavior.  He or she should also inspire people to perform at higher levels individually and collectively than they thought was possible.  If you are going to strive to be the exception to rule, then endeavor to raise the bar on positive constructive behaviors not succumbing rationalizations that are hard to defend.


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