A Blog by John Bossong

6 Things That Paralyze Leaders

Do you find yourself paralyzed as a leader?  Wanting to lead and do great things.  Needing to impact people and the organization.  Make a difference.  Produce great results.

What’s holding you back?  What’s keeping you from accomplishing great things?  Are you hesitant to make decisions and pull the trigger?  Why?

Here are 6 things from a Perry Noble leadership podcast that can paralyze leaders and keep them from being effective.

1 – Worrying  what others think.  It’s easy to fall into the trap of listening to and believing your critics.  Trying to please the masses rather than those you lead.  You can’t and won’t please everyone. Those who know you least shouldn’t define you the most.  What others think isn’t what everyone thinks.  The people who care and are willing to give you honest feedback are the critics who matter.   Don’t compare yourself to others.  Compare yourself to your purpose.  Purpose matters, critics don’t.

2 – Making people dependent on you rather than principles and values.  Author Stephen Covey says organizations should institutionalize the vision, mission and principles they operate by.  The people you lead need to trust the vision and values of the organization. People make great decisions when they are motivated by a purpose rather than a hammer.



3 – Always reliving the past.  You have to get past your past.  Your previous momentum does not guarantee future success.  Focus on what’s out front.  Your challenges.  Your vision.  You need to think long term.  Hard to do because it goes against our quick fix culture.  Looking forward is a prerequisite for leaders.

4 – Isolating yourself.  You can’t accomplish anything without people.  You can’t help solve problems if you don’t know about them or can’t see them.  The higher you go in the organization, the more removed (isolated) you become.  Don’t let it happen.  Stay engaged.  Don’t distance yourself from your customers (internal and external).  Make sure everyone at every level knows the vision and plan.  Repetitive communication is the key.

5 – Not doing what you say.  This is a big one. In other words, model what you want your people to do.  The who you are versus the what you say.  You can communicate a great vision and be a great motivator.  But if your actions don’t match what you say, you destroy what leaders need the most, TRUST.  You have to earn and build trust.  Forget power and authority and top down command and control.  If you don’t have TRUST, it doesn’t matter where you sit on the “pyramid”.   The heart of all transactions is trust.  The best way to encourage others is to be a model for them.  Lead by example.

6 – Fear of failure.  You have to make decisions and lead.  You have to hire people to make decisions and lead.  You have to rebound from failure quickly and try again.  If you are afraid of failing, don’t lead.  If you are afraid of making decisions, don’t lead.  They go with the job.  Don’t let fear paralyze you.  Fight through the resistance.  Have a short-term memory.

What else can paralyze a leader? 


  1. Great post John. I would add not growing or learning. To reach our leadership potential requires growth!

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