12 Things NOT To Do As A New Leader

This is a guest post by friend and mentor Bruce Rhoades, who retired after having run several companies. He often helps me with strategy. I am delighted that he is a regular contributor.

What NOT to do as a New Leader

Achieving a new leadership position is both rewarding and challenging. It is recognition that you are someone who can make a difference, lead others and get things done. On the other hand, it is perhaps another step toward more responsibility and more visibility.


“Continual blaming only disempowers the organization.” -Bruce Rhoades


Whether you are a new executive, department manager, product manager, or team leader; when you are new to the role, people will watch closely to understand your style and how to work with you. Here are just a few of the things people will be evaluating:

  • Are you decisive? How will you make decisions?
  • What do you tolerate?
  • Do you hold people accountable?
  • Are you approachable?
  • Will you listen? Can you be influenced?
  • Do you take action?
  • How do you react to bad news?
  • Do you focus on big picture or detail?
  • Can you be put off, pocket-vetoed?
  • How will you deal with both good and poor performance?
  • How do you think about customers; how do you treat them?
  • How will you gather information?
  • What are your values?


“Many people confuse lengthy discussions with being effective.” –Bruce Rhoades


In two previous posts for new leaders, I described several tips to quickly and effectively establish your style, culture and values:

            How to Get Good Information and Build Relationships

            How to Decide, Empower and Take Action

However, as you begin to take action and set the desired cultural tone for the organization, it is easy to allow some behaviors to undermine your effectiveness as a leader. Here are a few things NOT to do as a new leader:


1. Do not Lead or Manage “around” other Leaders:

When involved in the various skip-level and other informal meetings, be careful not to usurp the authority of other leaders who may be responsible. If necessary, instead of acting at the time, simply make note of the situation, ask a few questions, then work through the appropriate leader to do what is necessary later.


2. Do Not Kill the Messenger:

Using the techniques I outlined in the previous post to get good information will sometimes surface bad news. Be cautious not to “kill the messenger” of the news, but listen and take the appropriate action in the proper forum. Strong, emotional reaction to a messenger of bad news kills open communication.


3. Do Not Be Totally Problem-Focused:

It is easy as a new leader to focus on solving problems. Be sure to balance problem solving with actions to capitalize on new opportunities and future strategies. Looking forward to possibilities allows the organization to solve current problems with a better context.


4. Do Not Start Too Many Large Initiatives at Once:

It is great to make decisions and take action, but be cautious to balance long-term, larger initiatives with the short-term actions. You will be more effective with organizational focus on a few long-term initiatives that are completed rather than on too many initiatives that drag on forever.


5. Do Not Permit Hidden Agendas:

When people have ulterior motives that are for personal gain or to hide negative consequences for actions and proposals, it undermines clear communication and trust in the organization. Always prompt people to explain their motives if you suspect hidden agendas. Asking questions is a good way to get to the actual agenda.


“Upward delegation undermines accountability and empowerment.” –Bruce Rhoades


6. Do Not Tolerate Pocket Vetoes:

A pocket veto is when someone appears to agree but actually does nothing, hoping that the subject will be forgotten. A pocket veto in business is a sign of passive-aggressive behavior. It not only undermines the effectiveness of the organization, but it also undercuts your leadership. Always confront this behavior with follow-up and reprimands. Pocket veto behavior is not like baseball – you do not get three strikes. Taking direct action with someone with this behavior will quickly set the tone for everyone that pocket vetoes are not a good idea.

Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” – Jim Rohn

Jim Rohn

Tricks to Handle Tenacious Negotiations Situations

This is a guest post by Paul Trevino and TheGapPartnership. Paul offers some first thoughts on some important aspects of business negotiations.

When negotiating a deal or sale, it is important to consider the skills and trades you’re offering and what you hope to get in return. When offering your services, it is recommended to refrain from giving “too much” away. What this means is not over-promising or giving away something too valuable without getting something back in return.

In high-stress sale or negotiating situations, it is easy to unload offers to try and appease the other party member. This is a self-defeating method, as it devalues your services and leaves you vulnerable to unwanted concessions.

If you plan to offer something, make sure there is a return on it. It is not undesirable to make the other party member ‘earn’ the concessions you have access to, as opposed to simply giving them to them. This will result in a more satisfactory experience for both individuals.


“Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.” – John F. Kennedy


Establish a Negotiation Strategy in Your Company

If you’re the head of a company, it is recommended to establish a quality negotiating plan among your employees. A good negotiating strategy can help improve customer satisfaction and potentially boost sales by implementing strategies that adhere to consumers’ wants and needs.

A poorly implemented plan may lead to conflict within a company or to disenfranchised employees frustrated by poor communication among their peers or superiors. With most organizations, negotiating is a daily business at every level. Whether it’s designating tasks for employees or handling customers, the ability to properly negotiate affects all areas of the workforce. A consistent and well-designed plan reduces stress among employees and lets staff learn proper negotiating tactics applicable both in and outside of work.


Don’t take it personally

Dealing with rejection or potentially rude customers is an expected part of negotiating. However, being sidetracked by personal conflict loses sight of the original deal or offer and results in time spent on unrelated issues. Understanding someone else’s personality or demeanor requires patience and sympathy. Peaceful negotiation requires focusing on the problem at hand and providing a solution irrespective of someone’s personality. Coming to a conclusion that satisfies both parties successfully defuses personal conflict and keeps the discussion civil between both parties.


“You do not get what you want. You get what you negotiate.” -Harvey Mackey



Negotiate Through Emotions

Negotiating can be an emotional investment among people, which can be a powerful tool to utilize. A common mistake among businesses is that they rely on logic or rationale to drive the negotiation process. Communicating ideals or values is almost always an emotional experience, with decisions being made based on greed, fear, ego, status or a desire to please.

An important tactic in negotiation is to show the benefits of a product or service, perhaps by painting a picture in someone’s mind or alluding to potentially successful scenarios or situations. This provides a visual imagery without actually spelling it out for someone, a clever tactic in challenging the other party member.


“Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have your way.” – Sir David Frost