May 31

What Leaders Should Stop Doing – Top 5 Things Leaders & Managers Must Quit Immediately

People often ask what are the things a leader should do in order to be successful, but rarely am I asked what leaders should stop doing. If you're a manager asking yourself, "what should a leader stop doing" then this post is for you.

I just came back from a training session for next level leaders. A year-long program I run to develop high-potentials for their role as leaders in the organization.

The program is twelve half-day sessions of experiential hands-on growth. We end every session with an open period. It’s a time for each member to get the answers to information they want to know about becoming great leaders.

I have to say, this is my favorite part of each session. Attendees come armed with great and sometimes pretty tough questions about what it really takes to lead in today’s constantly shifting economy. We spend about an hour in a pretty gut wrenchingly honest discussion about everything from how to have tough conversations; how to make difficult decisions; to how find balance in such a demanding role.

We Only Discuss What Leaders Should Start Doing...

This last session, a young-man who has only been in the program a month asked me a question that no-one has ever brought up before. He said I have only been in this program for a little while, but I notice that we only discuss what leaders should do. While that is helpful, I am just curious is there anything as leaders we shouldn’t do?

What leaders should stop doing... I almost laughed out loud when he asked it. Is there anything today's leaders should stop doing? I am not sure I have a the time or the energy to go through that list. However, it was a great question and an important one as well.

Before answering, I asked the group what they thought. Were there things that leaders needed to stop doing, and if so I asked them to come up with a list of five. It took the group no more than ten-minutes to easily jot the mistakes and missteps they have seen leaders make. And to create the list of those things they believe leaders should stop doing.

What Leaders Should Stop Doing

We Identified the 5 Things Successful Leaders Must Stop Doing

So, what should leaders stop doing?

After listening to everyone’s ideas, as a group we came up with five. The five things we believe are most detrimental in leadership today, and the five things every leader must stop doing if they want to be successful.

In our discussion about 'What Leaders Should Stop Doing', we identified the following five key points.

Stop Thinking This Is Business As Usual

The first thing that leaders should stop doing is, stop thinking this economy is the same. The biggest mistake we felt leaders make, the biggest challenge to their success is not typical things such as competition, regulation or lack of customer loyalty. No, the biggest challenge, the biggest obstacle to success is most leaders are using out-of-date strategies and techniques.

What Leaders Should Stop Doing - Stop Thinking It's Business As Usual

Leadership skills that were designed for a very difference economy and a very different employee. Leaders need to understand this is a new marketplace, one that calls for a different strategy and a new kind of leader.


If leaders continue to operate as if the economy and business environment haven't changed, they risk becoming obsolete. Their strategies may no longer be effective, and they may miss out on new opportunities. This could lead to a decline in business performance, loss of market share, and ultimately, failure to achieve organizational goals.


Leaders should embrace the changing business landscape and adapt their strategies accordingly. This could involve staying updated with industry trends, investing in new technologies, or rethinking business models. Regular strategic reviews can help ensure that the organization remains relevant and competitive.

Stop Being In Charge

Leaders today need to realize that employees don’t want someone to be in charge. They want someone to lead the way. What is the difference? A leader who is in charge makes all the rules, all the decisions and determines the road to success. The leader who leads the way determines the destination, but allows the team members to determine the path. Thus, giving team members skin in the game.

In today’s marketplace, your greatest competitive advantage, in fact your only competitive advantage, is the quality of the people on your team. Top talent wants to feel part of your organization, they want their ideas to be heard and they want their work to matter.


Leaders who insist on making all the decisions and rules can stifle creativity and innovation within their teams. Employees may feel undervalued and disengaged, leading to decreased productivity and high turnover rates. In the long run, this can hinder the growth and success of the organization.


Instead of trying to control every decision, leaders should foster a culture of collaboration and empowerment. This can involve delegating more, encouraging team input in decision-making, and providing opportunities for employees to lead projects or initiatives. This approach can boost employee engagement, creativity, and ownership.

Stop Focusing Inside

Another thing leaders should stop doing is to realize that the majority of things that could impact the growth of their organizations lay outside the organization. Things like regulation, consumer confidence, gas prices, technology, competition and the list goes on. A change in any one of those things could radically impact your ability to be successful.

So, leaders need to focus less on what’s going on inside their businesses and more on what is happening outside. The role of the leader is now more like that of the captain of the ship. You have to have an amazing crew running the internal workings, so you can be focused looking outside for those things that could positively or negatively impact your ability to succeed.


Leaders who only focus on internal matters may miss important external factors that could impact their organization. This includes changes in the market, new competition, regulatory changes, or shifts in customer behavior. Ignoring these external factors can lead to strategic missteps, loss of competitive advantage, and potential business risks.


While internal operations are important, leaders should also keep an eye on the external environment. Regular market research, competitor analysis, and trend forecasting can help leaders anticipate changes and make proactive decisions. Building relationships with external stakeholders, such as customers, suppliers, and industry peers, can also provide valuable insights.

Stop Sticking to the Plan

As a leader, you need to have a plan and you need to be focused. You just don’t need to be so committed to it that you are not open and willing to change. When leaders stop focusing inside and start seeing the opportunities and challenges happening outside the organization, they must be flexible to take advantage of those. Leadership today is about being radically focused on what you want to accomplish, while still being nimble enough that you easily flex and change when the marketplace demands it.


While having a plan is important, being too rigid can be detrimental. Leaders who aren't willing to adapt their plans when necessary may miss out on new opportunities or fail to address emerging challenges. This inflexibility can lead to stagnation, missed opportunities, and inability to respond effectively to changes in the business environment.


Again, having a clear plan is important, but leaders should also be flexible and adaptable. This could involve setting up processes for regular plan reviews, encouraging feedback and suggestions from the team, and being open to course corrections when necessary. A balance of focus and flexibility can help the organization navigate changes effectively.

Stop Spending Time Alone

In a world that is moving fast, and one where the only constant is change, leaders need to stop spending time alone. Relationships are key to the success of any organization. And, leaders need to be paving the way, building relationships with customers, vendors, peers and most importantly employees. The more leaders invest in others, the more others will invest in the organization.

What Leaders Should Stop Doing - Stop Spending Time Alone


Leaders who isolate themselves risk losing touch with their teams, customers, and the market. This can lead to poor decision-making, lack of innovation, and a disconnect with the needs and concerns of employees and customers. Over time, this can erode trust, damage relationships, and negatively impact the organization's culture and performance.


Leaders should make an effort to spend more time with their teams, customers, and other stakeholders. Regular team meetings, one-on-one check-ins, customer visits, and networking events can help leaders stay connected and informed. Building strong relationships can enhance communication, trust, and collaboration, benefiting the entire organization.

So there you have it... What Leaders Should Stop Doing

This is our top 5 things 'Leaders Should Stop Doing' list that we believe leaders need to quit in order to succeed no matter what this economy does.

Start the Conversation!

Those are our ideas, what are yours? We would love to hear your thoughts on 'What Leaders Should Stop Doing' that might be negatively impacting their organizations.

What holds their employees back and prevents them from succeeding no matter what this economy does? Get the conversation started by adding your comments below...

About Meridith Elliott Powell:

Voted Top 15 Business Growth Experts To Watch, and Top 41 Motivational Speakers, Meridith Elliott Powell is a business growth strategist who helps her clients learn the techniques they need to turn uncertainty to competitive advantage.  An award-winning author, Meridith has two new books, one with co-author Mary Kelly, Ph.D., Who Comes Next? Leadership Succession Planning Made Easy, and her soon to be released: THRIVE! Strategies to Turn Uncertainty into Competitive Advantage

Meridith Elliott Powell

Voted one of the Top 15 Business Growth Experts to watch by Currency Fair, highly engaging corporate motivational keynote speaker Meridith Elliott Powell delivers a cutting-edge message, rooted in real-life examples and real-world knowledge. Meridith’s presentations are full of powerful content, highly interactive, and fun. She helps her clients learn the leadership development, sales and business growth strategies to turn uncertainty to competitive advantage.

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