11 Things Great Leaders Don’t Do

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By: Matshona Dhliwayo

Great leaders have good habits that enable them to achieve extraordinary feats.  They invest in themselves exceedingly, developing healthy routines.  But, their greatness isn’t only reflected in what they do, but also in what they don’t do.  Below are 11 things remarkable leaders don’t do that set them apart from ordinary people.

  1. They don’t think too highly of themselves.  They are confident, but not proud.  When wrong, they humbly admit it; when right, they courageously stand their ground.  Because of this, they become wiser, learning from their mistakes, and they become stronger, holding onto their convictions. 
  2. They don’t needlessly wag their tongues.  They think more, do more and speak less.  Even in silence, their deeds speak for them, and excellence shouts for them.  Before they act, they think; before they speak, they listen.  Before they scorn, they are empathetic; before they criticize, they encourage.  Before they wound, they heal. 
  3. They don’t wait for luck.  They make their own luck by turning failures into lessons, obstacles into opportunities, and tragedies into triumphs.  Wisdom gives them a hundred eyes to see opportunities, courage gives them a hundred feet to seek opportunities, and strength gives them a hundred arms to seize opportunities. 
  4. They don’t dwell on past failure or success.  They forget the past but learn from it; embrace the present and utilize it, and anticipate the future and prepare for it—for they know they are better than their past, greater than their present, and brighter than their future. 
  5. They don’t let critics talk them out of their dreams.  Instead, they ignore naysayers, master their fears, wrestle their opponents, overcome their losses, and conquer their weaknesses.  When expected to fall, they rise; when expected to fail, they succeed; and when expected to break, they keep it together. 
  6. They don’t underestimate their competition.  When their competition is large, they outwit it; when small, they crush it; and when unpredictable, they do both.  Preferring to err on the side of caution in judgment, knowledge puts them ten steps ahead of their opponents, understanding puts them a hundred steps ahead of their competition, intelligence puts them a thousand steps ahead of their rivals, and wisdom puts them countless steps ahead of their enemies. 
  7. They don’t make unnecessary enemies.  Imprudent people accumulate adversaries, intelligent people accumulate acquaintances, and wise people accumulate friends.  It is conventional wisdom that more enemies equal more troubles, and more friends equal more blessings.  Great leaders, therefore, draw strangers with their cheerfulness, gain acquaintances with their cleverness, maintain associates with their faithfulness, and multiply friends with their kindness.  They even go as far as disarming their enemies by making them friends. 
  8. They don’t try to please everyone.  Pandering to many is dangerous, pleasing some is favorable, pandering to everyone is fatal, and pandering to the right few is profitable.  Clear about their objectives, great leaders don’t waste time trying to get anyone’s approval unless they are a necessary part of achieving them. 
  9. They don’t harbor negative thoughts.  In their minds, they carry wisdom; in their hearts, they harbor joy; and in their souls, they carry love.  Because of this, they often find themselves one thought away from intelligence, one word away from kindness, one deed away from excellence, one step away from brilliance, and one second away from transcendence. 
  10. They don’t repeat the same mistakes.  All leaders, good or bad, make mistakes.  The difference is, when a great leader makes one mistake, he learns ten lessons; when he makes two, he learns twenty; and when he makes three, he learns thirty.  The more mistakes he makes, the more he learns and the less he repeats them. 

    11. They don’t abuse power.  They view power as a privilege, not a birthright—and so exercise it cautiously and ethically.  They are kind to the poor, fair to the rich, gracious to the lowly, and just to the prominent.  So noble is their use of power that, if you are deaf, they will lend you their ears; blind, they will lend you their eyes; mute, they will lend you their tongues; confused, they will lend you their minds; and weary, they will lend you their hearts and souls.

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