Most leaders have only the best intentions when it comes to team-building.

Yet sometimes, they can be their own worst enemies.

Without realizing it, leaders can say and do things that sabotage their own efforts to build strong, coherent teams.

It’s important to know what some of these acts of self-sabotage can look like, ensuring you don’t inadvertently stumble into them.

Let me list a few of the most common examples, all of which I’ve seen in leaders and managers I’ve worked with.

How Leaders Sabotage Their Teams

You give your team tasks to complete, rather than goals to achieve.

Your aim isn’t just to keep your team members busy. It’s to get them invested in your mission, working toward a set of shared goals and embracing a set of shared values.

So when you ignore the big picture—giving your people hoops to jump through, but not telling them what they’re ultimately trying to achieve or why it matters—it can cause your team-building efforts to stagnate.

You roll up your sleeves and get involved… a little too much.

Let me clarify this one: I love seeing leaders get into the trenches and work hard among their employees!

The issue comes when you pick up too much of the slack from underachieving employees, or prevent them from solving their own problems.

Be there when employees need you, but also know when to stand back and let them fail, pick themselves back up, and ultimately grow together as a team.

You avoid being the bad guy.

A lot of leaders avoid confrontation, or are reticent to have hard discussions with their team members. Their fear is that doing so will only imperil morale.

But you can’t simply avoid talking about pressing issues, or critiquing poor performances. Teams don’t grow without a little tough love from time to time, so don’t hesitate to step up with a reality check when needed.

You don’t model balance.

Do you have employees who burn the midnight oil, work long hours, and generally neglect any sense of work-life balance?

That’s not something to be happy about.

What it means is that your team isn’t working efficiently; or, that you haven’t done your job in establishing the right expectations for self-care.

You want employees who are healthy and who work efficiently during the day—and that’s not something you’ll get if your employees focus more on input than output.

Can you think of any other examples of self-sabotaging leadership? I’d love to hear them. Reach out to me and let’s talk together! You can contact Dr. Rick at or call 888-267-6098.

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