Leadership Delusion: The 25 Lies Crappy Business Leaders Tell Themselves

The worst thing about bad business leaders is that they genuinely believe that they are doing excellent work. Yes, they may realize that their companies are not performing. But in their minds, it is not their leadership. It is the economy, stupid competitors, the government and regulation, the weather, their customers, their weak employees, etc.

Such leaders need a cold splash of reality. It is all about their leadership. Over the medium to long term, if a company falters, it is the fault and responsibility of the leadership.

In short, most leaders of under-performing companies are simply deluding themselves. So what are the most common lies that these ineffective leaders repeat to themselves on a daily, weekly, monthly basis to maintain their fantasy?

  1. I am ethical and honest; I mean well; and my team knows this.
  2. We value open communication and everyone’s viewpoint in this company.
  3. The more that we can get done the better.
  4. I have clearly communicated my goals to the team. Each employee knows how his or her daily activity fits into the overall company goals.
  5. We hold everyone equally accountable from the worker on the floor to the salesperson pounding the pavement to the top management to me. There is no favoritism.
  6. Our performance review system is fair, just, and not at all political. Through it, we clearly communicate how everyone in the company is doing.
  7. My team appreciates it when I take their good ideas and tweak them to make them even better.
  8. I lead by my impeccable example.
  9. I always return phone calls and respond to my E-Mails punctually.
  10. I am the first one to take blame for mistakes and give praise to others for our successes.
  11. I repeatedly recognize and thank my team, finding someone doing something right every day.
  12. I am an excellent listener, paying apt attention and rarely interrupting.
  13. I value learning and continuous improvement. I continue to learn and improve the way I do my job every day.
  14. We love our customers. They are the lifeblood of our business. And we never take them for granted, always finding new and better ways to service them.
  15. Our customers value us as one of their best suppliers.
  16. Any customer turnover (churn) comes from those customers who are always shopping for the lowest price.
  17. We live our brand message.
  18. Our sales team is professional and excellent in really listening to the customer and providing solutions for what the customers really want.
  19. We are easy to do business with.
  20. We are open to new ideas and possibilities even if they are not standard or if they conflict with what we are currently doing.
  21. There is no growth in our market, but we are out-performing our competitors.
  22. We have a sustainable competitive advantage in our key markets.
  23. There will always be a market and customers for our products and services even for the next 5, 10, 15 years.
  24. Although we are struggling, the right acquisition would solve all of our problems and get us back to growth.
  25. None of what is written above applies to me.


About David Shedd

David has been a President - CEO - COO of an up to $350M group of manufacturing, distribution, specialty retail and services companies, having led 22 different businesses from turnarounds to start-ups to fast growth companies.
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