3 Ways to Avoid Sabotaging Your Leadership Influence

I remember my first leadership position like it was yesterday. Especially, the frustration of not being able to influence those I led positively. Luckily, a mentor shared a statement that changed the way I thought about the situation and ultimately leadership development. She said, “Have you ever considered that you are part of the problem, and part of the solution?”

solution to your problem


After reflecting on how I was the problem it became clear my leadership style was about being in control. Not only did I do my job, I tried to do everyone else’s too. If I couldn’t I told them how to do their work. When problems occurred, I blamed them for the mistakes. Over time, I reverted to my office behind closed doors wondering what to do.

That’s right, I was an ogre that led by command and control. Moreover, those I was responsible for serving simply showed up for work and left on time. And why shouldn’t they. After all, I was treating them like a thing vs. allowing them to use their talents to make a difference.

Armed with a new mindset, I was able to focus on how to change my leadership style to build trust with my followers. Here’s three ways to avoid sabotaging your ability to lead. I call these my leadership don’ts.

1. Don’t be the Lone Ranger! Your job is to get results through others, not to do everything yourself. Trying to take on every task yourself will lead to burnout and destroy trust among subordinates. The key to achieving greater results is through delegation. Delegation has many benefits. First, you will increase your trustworthiness as a leader and have extra time for more important tasks. Additionally, delegating tasks to team members develops their ability, improves their self-esteem and leads to better ideas to problems.

2. Don’t Jump to Solutions! When you jump to solutions and react on impulse, you waste time and frustrate others, especially when the solution is wrong. The next time a problem occurs unexpectedly, stop and think instead of pointing fingers or flying off the handle. Instead of trying to solve the problems on your own, propose solutions as a whole team. First, share how you define the problem and allow others to share their thoughts. Next, gather data to determine possible causes. With the possible causes identified, allow others to share their ideas to solve the issue. In most cases, they will provide ideas you have not thought of before. Additionally, the team will embrace the change because they were involved in the problem solving process.

3. Don’t Suffer in Silence! When things go wrong (and it will happen!), don’t become withdrawn and quiet. Even if it is your nature to deal with problems on your own, the silent route will only eat you alive. Problems kept internally can cause you to lose sleep and destroy relationships with your employees. Now is the perfect time to rally the troops and share the reality of the situation, rather than trying to deal with all of the issues on your own. Whether it is a personal issue or work-related problem, other people are willing and love to help, if only they know what you are going through. By talking openly, you give them the opportunity to make a difference.

The leadership don’ts can be very easy to fall into, especially when you fail to realize it is happening to you. Therefore, the biggest realization in all of this is learning to be accountable to oneself. Unfortunately, people rarely like to admit their faults; it is a natural inherent desire to be founded and grounded to your belief system. But those leaders who are the most successful grab hold of the concept, admit their mistakes and embrace the need for change.

There will always be relationship or communication issues in the workplace. The goal is to not sabotage your leadership by allowing erosion of trust and respect. So start by ditching the leadership don’ts and accept that you DO need others. Also, remember employees WANT to help. They are not at work just to receive a steady paycheck. Instead, they want to work in an environment in which they can contribute their full creative powers to make a difference in the lives of others.

Questions: In your experience how have you been the problem and how can you become the solution?

About John

I speak, train, and write about mastering self-leadership for better thinking, better behavior and better results especially during difficult times. I am also a contributing author of the book ‘Speaking of Success’ along with Ken Blanchard, Jack Canfield and Stephen Covey and 1 0f 51 contributors to the ’17 Biblical Principles of Success’ audio CD program.

Feel free to contact by email: You can follow me on Twitter @power2transform.

Free Downloads:

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  • My book chapter ‘The 5 Enables of Success and
  • Biblical Principle #11: Self-Control MP3

Why Self Control is the Foundation for Success

Recently I had the honor and privilege to participate in a digitally recorded audio interview with the Dean of NFL Referees Jim Tunney and successful business owner Stephen F. Skinner. Our wonderful host, Phil R. Taylor facilitated a discussion on the importance of self-control to achieving success.

After our session, I spent some time reflecting on the ups and downs I’ve encountered in my life. Very quickly I realized why self-control is the foundation for creating and sustaining what we truly seek most from life: love, growth, health, security, inner peace, friendship, etc.

Self Control Professional Colorful

During my earlier years because of my lack of self-control I experienced the opposite. In fact, life seemed only to offer: frustration, loneliness, unhappiness, fatigue, and dissatisfaction. Fortunately, for me, a man I respected and admired (Russell) taught me a life lesson. He shook a coke can and asked me to open it. Of course, I refused. He asked me why, and I replied, “Because what’s inside the can will spew all over you and me. Next, he said something I will never forget “John, that’s what you do when you’re working with other people, and things don’t go your way. You have several talents, but talent will get you nowhere. Until you learn to lead yourself, you will feel empty and never achieve success.” The lesson was clear, what I don’t manage manages me. Thankfully, Russell continued to mentor me and shared a Bible verse, with me that sparked the beginning of me becoming a life-long learner.


Whoever loves discipline loves to learn; whoever hates to be corrected remains ignorant. ~Proverbs 12:1


Next, I set out to learn why I behaved in ways that caused me to spew all over others. Here’s what I discovered. My beliefs about success: be strong, be smart and be responsible worked well until other people were involved. As you might imagine when other people disagreed with me or seemed to have better ideas I became fearful and felt threatened. My behavior was cruel, inconsiderate, rude, cold or selfish. During these times, I acted like a scared child or know it all parent.

Coming face to face with the truth set in motion the desire to manage my emotions instead of my emotions managing me. Continuing my learning journey, I discovered several examples of biblical characters that experienced a war within just as I did. That war within is between the flesh and the Spirit as described in Galatians 5:16-17:


But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.


Isn’t it interesting that we want to do the right thing, yet our beliefs or desires prevent us from doing so. Galatians 5:18-19 describes the works of the flesh as strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, etc. When walking in the flesh, I was focused on satisfying my needs and considered others a threat to believing I was responsible, smart, and strong. This threat led me to behave in ways that caused harm relationships and trust to erode.

However when led by the Spirit, I am able through His power to practice self-control and produce joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness…the behaviors to show love. Unfortunately, the wars within remain alive and well, but now I have a divine power to fight the battle for me.

Peter is a biblical example that when led by the flesh was known to say things or behave in ways he would later regret. Soon after Jesus was arrested Peter was questioned about his association with Christ. Fearing for his life, Peter denied knowing Jesus not once but three times even though earlier he stated his never-ending commitment to Christ.

After his transformation, Peter walked in the Spirit and stood firm in the face of adversity. In Acts 3, we read that Peter and John healed a lame beggar. The beggar entered the temple jumping with joy praising God. His new behavior led to the arrest of Peter and John. They were brought before the high court that crucified Jesus. The court asked them by what name did they heal the beggar. Previously under pressure, Peter denied knowing Jesus. You might even expect him to blame someone else for this act but not this time. Instead, the transformed Peter proclaimed it was Jesus who the courts killed, and God raised from the dead that gave the beggar perfect health in the presence of everyone.

By focusing on the power that was available to him through the Spirit, Peter did not cave into his desires or the pressure to protect himself. The power to walk in the Spirit is available to everyone that believes in Christ. Weaknesses in our flesh are revealed and transformed into strengths and thus become the catalyst for self-control.

For me, Psalm 119-9:11 sums up how to walk in the Spirit.


How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, which I might not sin against you.


The answer is to read God’s Word and allow His divine power to renew your mind and His Spirit to transform your behavior to glorify Him. Here’s a personal example of how God is helping me overcome my self-control struggle of eating unhealthy.

First, I asked God to reveal the verses from His Word that will serve as the daily affirmations for renewing my mind. Through prayer and reading God’s Word I learned:

  • Food is not for comforting my emotions. “Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.” 1 Corinthians 8:8.
  • Food is fuel for the body, so plan my meals. “Don’t stuff yourself, bridle your appetite.” Proverbs 23:3
  • My body is a temple where the Holy Spirit lives. “…do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
  • God wants me to have a healthy body. “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health as it goes well with your soul.” 3 John 1:2
  • God leads me on my journey to becoming healthy. “And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” Isaiah 58:11

With the a sound foundation based on God’s Biblical Principles and led by the Spirit, I am now following a 3-step process for eating healthy.

  1. Prepare – I asked my wife Laura to help me by cooking foods that have not been processed. Now, we plan our meals weekly and purchase foods recommended by the Daniel Plan.
  2. Perform – With her loving support I am now eating lean meats along with plenty of healthy grains, fruits, and vegetables. Additionally, I am working to eliminate refined sugars such as soft drinks and sweet tea from my daily routine. Instead, I am now drinking water. Lastly, we are reducing the number of times we eat at restaurants each week.
  3. Perfect – I do not expect to be perfect on my journey of healthy eating. Instead, I am tracking my flawed progress and repeating the process of prepare, perform and perfect to honor God with a healthy body.

Our interview will be part of the 17 Biblical Principles of Success audio program available on CD and digital download formats set for release in Mar 2016. The program includes 51 Magnificent Business Leaders, Speakers, Authors, Teachers and Pastors sharing their life experiences and insights about the power of Biblical Principles that have guided them towards success throughout their lives and careers.