Leaders Should Banish

As a leader, there are things you do every day.

Some help—others, not so much.

I’ve found that as I’ve grown as a leader, I’ve regularly had to change how I think, how I lead and even what I say.

Fortunately, there are hacks you can learn along the way that will help you get better faster.

What follows are 7 things you can easily banish as a leader starting today. Eliminating all of them or most of them will give you immediate traction.

1. Intentions

Your kids aren’t going to remember your intentions. Neither will your wife or your church. The people who count on you only ever see your actions.

Which likely means no one’s going to stand next to your casket or urn and say “He wished he was nicer” or “He had always hoped to be more strategic” or “She really wanted to overcome her fear”.

Legacies never get built on intentions. They’re built on action.

So get over your intentions and start acting.

Legacies never get built on intentions. They're built on action. Click To Tweet

2. Words that start with “Some”

If you want to get nothing meaningful done, just use words that start with “some” a lot. Like in every conversation or meeting you’re in.

What ‘some’ words? Well….





These words end up sounding like this: Somebody should do something about that sometime someday.

Guaranteed zero action happens. Ever.

Leadership is not simply talk. In fact, talking about doing something again and again is not leadership, it’s delusion.

Talking about doing something again and again is not leadership, it's delusion. Click To Tweet

There’s only one ‘some’ word I can think of that I like, and that’s somehow.

Somehow can be an amazing word when you’re up against and impossible task and someone asks you “How on earth will we do this?” and you reply “I don’t know. But somehow we’ll figure it out.”

Now that’s awesome.

But someone somewhere sometimes means no-one nowhere ever. Trust me.

Someone, somewhere, sometimes means no-one nowhere ever. Click To Tweet

3. Unnecessary meetings

The value of meetings once you get beyond the creative process, or meetings to nail down a few executional details or meetings connect for a check-in to sync up the team is pretty low.

For the most part, meetings are the enemy of work.

Far too many leaders waste their lives in meetings. Instead of doing what they’re called to do, they meet about what they’re supposed to be doing.

Dreams can be born in meetings, but far more often, dreams die in meetings.

Meetings are the enemy of work. Do your work instead.

Meetings are the enemy of work. Do your work instead. Click To Tweet

4. Fear

Fear is the thief of hope. It kills leadership. It murders courage.

Way too many leaders I know, live in fear.

The difference between effective leaders and ineffective leaders is simple: all leaders feel fear. The effective ones push past it.

All leaders feel fear. The effective ones push past it. Click To Tweet

So what’s the antidote to fear?

While there are a few, believe it or not, I think one of the antidotes to fear is the fear the right thing.

If you’re going to be afraid, I suggest you fear this:

Be afraid of never accomplishing your mission.

That will give you courage, or at least determination. And that in turn, will grow your faith.

If you're going to be afraid, be afraid of never accomplishing your mission. Click To Tweet

5. The Desire to Be Liked

Leadership requires you to take people to destinations they would not go without your leadership.

Stop for a moment and, if you would, re-read that sentence.

Do you see the challenge?

Leadership is inherently difficult because it requires a leader to take people where they don’t naturally want to go.

So you have a choice as a leader.

You can focus on leading people, or focus on being liked.

When you focus on being liked, you will instinctively try to please the people you’re leading. And when you do, you will become confused.

Pleasing people is inherently confusing because people don’t agree. One person wants it one way. Another wants it another way.

And soon, you’re bending over backward to make everyone happy, which of course means that in the end, you will end up making no one happy, including yourself. It’s actually a recipe for misery for everyone.

It’s also a recipe for inertia.

If you focus on being liked, you’ll never lead. You will never have the courage to do what needs to be done.

If you focus on being liked, you'll never lead. Click To Tweet

6. Selfishness

Ambition can be a good thing. It’s great to have hopes and dreams for your mission.

But selfish ambition is a different creature.

Ambition kills servants of God and turns them into servants of themselves.

Enough said.

Ambition kills servants of God and turns them into servants of themselves. Click To Tweet

7. Blaming Others

It’s so easy to blame everyone else and everything else for your lack of progress as a leader.

If you want to keep not making progress, keep blaming others.

The opposite of blame is responsibility. If you think about the leaders you admire most, they’re probably the most responsible leaders you know.

Great leaders never assign blame. Instead, they assume responsibility.

Great leaders never assign blame. Instead, they assume responsibility. Click To Tweet

Want More Time For What Matters Most?

It is a crazy world, and if you’re not careful, it can take you under. That’s what happened to me when, after my first decade in leadership, I burned out.

If you’re trying to find the time for what matters most in life, my High Impact Leader course, is my online, on-demand course designed to help you get time, energy and priorities working in your favour.

Many leaders who have taken it are recovering 3 productive hours a day.  That’s about 1000 hours of found time each year. That’s a lot of time for what matters most.

Here are what some alumni are saying about The High Impact Leader Course”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you for providing the course again. It has absolutely made an impact in my life and family already that I can’t even describe.” – Joel Rowland, Clayton County, North Carolina

“Just wow.  Thank you, thank you.” Dave Campbell,  Sioux Falls South Dakota

A game changer.” Pam Perkins,  Colorado Springs, Colorado

Curious? Want to beat overwhelm and have the time to reflect, rest and reinvent yourself?

Click here to learn more or get instant access.

What About You?

Those are 7 things I check myself on regularly.

What about you? What would you add to the list?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

7 Things Every Leader Should Banish Starting Today


  1. Jean Young on October 2, 2017 at 10:46 am


  2. […] discuss an article by Carey Nieuwhof “7 Things Every Leader Should Banish Starting Today” 1)      Intentions 2)     “Some” words 3)      Unnecessary meetings. 4)     […]

  3. Weekly Highlights | Jeremy Wallace on July 15, 2017 at 9:11 am

    […] Carey Nieuwhof   |   7 Things Every Leader Should Banish Starting Today […]

  4. […] This article originally appeared here. […]

  5. Char Seawell on April 29, 2017 at 8:30 am

    Question (not loaded) many of my tribe members are just on the edges of faith, and they would not be interested in leadership articles, but you write so many helpful ideas and thoughts. If I attribute quotes to you, can I place on posters and put out of Facebook? I loved “Fear is the thief of hope.” I make posters everyday with scripture and send to my favorite pastors…. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bfcd81517995e3e5edf734627f3c643c8de00094494a537c3b633c08751a2765.jpg No is an okay answer :-). Love your Work!

  6. T Chil on April 29, 2017 at 8:12 am

    This is probably one of the BEST articles I have read on Leadership in a long time. Each point is practical. I really like #3 on Meetings… they are generally a big waste. Thanks.

  7. […] Carey Nieuwhof   |   7 Things Every Leader Should Banish Starting Today […]

  8. Eli Galindo on April 28, 2017 at 8:46 am

    The Show-Together-Watch philosophy of leading others has really helped me over the years. Understanding that we all need direction from our leader, make sure not to just tell others what they should do. Rather, Show them (the learning process) by having them watch you perform the task or duty you are asking them to take on, then do it Together as a team (grow their condidence) and lastly Watch (oversee, constructively critique and encourage them). I have often seen leaders give a new position or task and very little instruction, which can often lead to failuer and discouragement.

  9. CPSOT on April 26, 2017 at 6:48 pm

    The way I would word #4 Fear is this:
    Fear of failure is not the same thing as the fear of not succeeding.

  10. Matthew Brown on April 26, 2017 at 12:35 pm


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