When you are a manager, it is easy to fall into a reactionary mode and develop bad leadership habits. I want to talk about these bad habits and how you can become a more proactive leader rather than a reactionary one. 

Another word used among managers for bad leadership habits is “anti-patterns.” Which basically just means habits that are ineffective, counterproductive, and just overall bad for us. 

I want to examine some commonly found anti-patterns I see with managers and how you can correct them if you have fallen into one of these bad leadership habits. 

No judgment if you have; if you are reading this article, you must see that they are not working for you and are trying to improve. 

Would you prefer to read rather than watch? Not to worry! You can read the blog post below.

Anti-pattern #1- You're too busy

Some people like to use how busy they are as a badge of honor. We have been conditioned from society to think that being so busy to the point of exhaustion is the only way to be a success, and this is such a backwards way of thinking. 

When you are so busy that you are not prioritizing your day and are constantly stuck in reactionary mode, you are doing yourself a disservice. Taking the time to learn how to be more intentional with how your day proceeds you are likely not to be stressed all the time and have better results. 

If you are stressed out constantly, mistakes are being made, things are being forgotten, and you are not operating at your best. 

In saying this, I understand that there are busy times we all experience where you have to buckle down and work through some craziness. I’m talking about that being your everyday routine. Just busy and stressed-out day in and day out. This is a perfect way to burn out. 

Instead, you want to get into the habit of intentionally planning out your day and your week. Every morning you can decide on your top three priorities of the day that will help to move the needle towards whatever it is you are trying to achieve. Eventually, this will add up to make a significant impact. 

At the end of the week, you can review your week to see your progress and areas that may need some adjustments. 

You will find you are far more purposeful with where you focus your attention because the truth of the matter is you can’t focus on everything all at once. You can, however, focus on a few things and do them very well. 

Anti-pattern #2- You default to finding solutions for your team members

As managers, we should always be training leaders, but if you are solving every problem they encounter, you are doing the opposite of training leaders. 

You need to train yourself to get into the habit of asking questions when someone comes to you with a problem, rather than defaulting to finding a solution for them. 

By asking questions, you coach them to find the answers themselves and realize they already have the answers they need. 

You will encounter situations that they can’t figure out on their own, but you want to model to them to ask questions instead of relying on you all the time for answers. 

Anti-pattern #3- Analysis paralysis

Being in a management role comes with many responsibilities, but if you are so fearful of making the wrong decision that you end up not making any decision, this is a problem. 

Making decisions as a manager does affect a lot of people, so it’s totally understandable why some people experience analysis paralysis. You need to learn that you can’t make a perfect decision, but you can demonstrate that you understand the risks of your decision. 

A framework that I find very simple and effective is from Keith Cunningham’s book “The road less stupid.” When faced with a decision, you ask yourself, what is the upside? What is the downside? And can I live with the downside?

These three questions will get you thinking through all the possibilities, including the probability of it not working out, which will get you thinking about mitigating the risks associated with that decision. 

Instead of being stuck in analysis paralysis, think about those questions and create a plan if the decision doesn’t work out. 

Anti-pattern #4- Always resorting to punitive action

When you are dealing with an underperforming employee, your first step shouldn’t be to take corrective action. There is a time and place for everything, but that shouldn’t be your automatic go-to right away. 

You can work towards breaking this habit by learning how to coach people and taking a step back to evaluate the situation. Ask yourself a few clarifying questions like, why am I seeing this underperformance? was I not clear with my expectations? Does this person have the proper training?

Being observant and trying to find out the root cause of the underperformance rather than jumping into corrective action will make you a much more effective manager. 


Those are some of the everyday bad leadership habits that I see. Learning to stop defaulting to a reactionary state and become a more proactive leader is the difference between being an effective manager and not being very effective. 

If you are interested in talking to me more about anti-patterns that you see in yourself and learning how to create new habits, you can set up a call with me. I have more tips and am always interested in helping new managers become the best version of themselves.