Five Reactions Stifling Good Leaders

Originally published June 13, 2017 by The Montrose Daily Press

As leaders, people come to us all day long with questions, complaints, ideas, and problems.

Over time, you gain an understanding that your career is the sum of all the decisions you’ve made.

In fact, if you’ve been doing it long enough, you’ve likely programmed your reactions to most everything that comes across your desk and decision making has become second nature.

While this type of automated response may be an efficient practice, we should still reflect on our reactions and take time examining their effectiveness.

Five reactions that will stifle good leaders:


Haven’t we all worked in an environment where memos come out every other week with some new rule or practice?

Someone spent too much time on their cell phone so now cell phones are banned for everyone. A customer complained and now the entire company is on a witch hunt to remedy the issue.

Wouldn’t direct conversations with each of these individuals be more effective than letting their poor choices ruin it for everyone else?

Knee-jerk reactions and blanket rule-setting are cowardly approaches to leadership. These practices avoid tough conversation and instead communicate distrust and devaluation to internal and external customers.

2. Mt. Saint Helens:

This is not the reputation you want. Routinely losing your cool can institute a culture of fear in your workplace. That culture will make your staff reluctant in bringing you problems and concerns.

If you don’t know about problems and concerns in your business, destruction isn’t far behind.

Most of us are passionate enough about our work to have punched a wall, thrown something, or raised our voice. We are human.

Next time you feel that reaction coming on, thank the person for the information, let them know you will get back with them, then excuse yourself and walk away. It’s tough in the moment, but valuable in the long run.

The same goes for an explosive email response. Solution? Go ahead and pound the keyboard to death typing that bad boy out (Google “When you’re arguing with someone online” for a visual). Save the email as a draft and go home. Come back the next day and re-read the email. You’ll thank yourself.

3. Pass the blame:

If someone comes to you with a staffing issue or a customer complaint, it is your job as a leader to own it. You are at the top of the chain. Even if it was someone else’s mistake, the blame ultimately rests on your shoulders.

You must take ownership, apologize to the person in front of you and tell them you will make it right. As these type of scenarios occur, start by first asking yourself what you could have done in better equipping your staff or better communicating your expectations.

By taking ownership of these issues, you will be forced into paying closer attention to your team and the practices and culture you’ve instilled upon them.

4. Throw in in the towel:

A huge part of leadership is vetting the junk. People will criticize, complain, attack and everything else in between. It is your job to not just be the junk filter, but be the one with whom it stops.

Remember these complaints aren’t personal (though they often feel that way). If you begin experiencing any level of success, your haters aren’t far behind. Whatever you do, do not let them talk you into giving up on what you’re doing.

If the attention you’re drawing is warranting complaints or criticism, consider that a sign of a successful project. Forage forward and smile along the way.

5. Cover up:

On a different note, if your business screwed up, admit it. Covering up or hiding mistakes can transform a small mistake into a grandiose one.

People aren’t stupid. Not only will this secrecy force your staff into a place of inauthenticity, it will breed distrust among your customers.

Though facing the music can be incredibly difficult in this type of situation, you will ultimately gain more respect and maintain more loyalty both internally and externally by doing so.

A true leader never stops learning. If you identified with any of the above situations, you’re not alone. We’ve all had reactions we wish we could take back.

The secret of success lies in what we do with those regrets. Allow yourself some grace as you move past your old behaviors, and take pride as you develop new ones.

“What’s popular isn’t always right. What’s right isn’t always popular.” — Howard Cosell

Chelsea Rosty is the executive director of the Montrose Chamber of Commerce and director of Business Innovation for the City of Montrose. Reach her at