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5 Characteristics of Weak Leaders

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5 Characteristics of Weak Leaders

Is it better to be feared or to be liked?

Many believe that a good leader knows how to answer this question, and that he/she should answer it a certain way. If somebody answers “liked,” then it must mean that person is weak and doesn’t have the ability to make difficult decisions. But if somebody answers “feared,” then it means that the person is strong and capable of making the tough decisions that come along with leadership. Right?

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Wrong. It is exactly this type of binary mindset that is weak.

Narrow-mindedness

A true leader knows that being respected is better than being feared and/or liked. If a leader fails to recognize this, then he/she suffers from narrow-mindedness and may not be leader material. This quality is one of the many characteristics of weak leaders.

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Lack of Control Over Emotions

A good example of this is the way many Americans viewed Hillary Clinton in the months leading up to the Democratic presidential primary election in 2008. During an event in New Hampshire, Clinton shed tears while discussing the upcoming election against future United States President Barack Obama. The incident was caught on camera and broadcast on several news stations, dividing the public into two groups: people who believed Mrs. Clinton’s tears were endearing and showed courage, and people who believed her tears filled her eyes with cowardice and soaked her face in vulnerability. Obama won the primary, as well as the presidential election later that year.

Now, we are not necessarily declaring Hillary Clinton a weak leader. She simply serves as an example of the way displaying one’s emotions can change the opinions of the people.

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Poor Communication

If a leader is unable to communicate his/her mission to followers, then the odds of achieving that goal are slim to none. For example, Ron Johnson became the CEO of J. C. Penney in November of 2011 and the company fired him less than two years later in April of 2013. Johnson was previously successful as the Vice President of Merchandising at Target and the Senior Vice President of Retail Operations at Apple, but his success did not continue at his new company.

Johnson’s failure at J. C. Penney can be attributed to his poor communication skills because he was unable to explain exactly what his mission was and exactly he planned on making it a reality. Since he couldn’t communicate his revolutionary strategy to employees, the employees failed to communicate this plan to customers. So Ron Johnson’s rebranding effort ended up alienating core customers because they couldn’t understand why J. C. Penney was changing everything they liked about the store. The coupons and sales soon came back, replacing Johnson’s new policy, and not long after, the company replaced Ron Johnson as well.

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Hesitation and Second-guessing

Weak leaders tend to hesitate when making decisions, and some fail to stand behind those decisions after they have already been made. A good leader keeps an open mind, considers all different points of view, and makes decisions with confidence. Hesitation and second-guessing only lead to a lack of support from followers and ultimate failure.

Not Learning from Mistakes

The reason we learn about history in school is so that we don’t repeat the mistakes from our pasts. Of course, we must know and understand how and why we made these mistakes to avoid making the same ones in the future.

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Last Updated on October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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