Always Keep a List of Nevers

Never, as an idea and commitment, is a very long time and is usually unrealistic. When people say “never,” they usually mean “most of the time.” When it comes to leadership, “never” is particularly hard to accept, as situations and people require different strategies and tactics. 

In the words of Peter Pan, who took us all to Never Never Land, “Never is an awfully long time.” 

Nonetheless, there ARE some things leaders should never do. Here are a few “nevers;” those things good leaders should never do: 

  1. Leaders should never mandate policy nor convey orders through others. Mandates come directly from the leader, or not at all. 

  2. Leaders should never apologize for team members who chose to leave the organization for greener pastures. Apologies and regret for departures undermines the confidence of the team and should be avoided at all costs. 

  3. Leaders should never make a unilateral decision that others need to execute. Failing to involve those impacted by the decision will always lead to unnecessary resistance. 

  4. Leaders should never talk colleagues into or out of life decisions, such as who to marry or divorce, where to live or relocate, or when to renew or retire. Leave life decisions to the people that need to make them, regardless if they hold your view in great esteem. 

  5. Never single out and criticize a direct report in a group setting. Groups magnify feelings of ridicule and embarrassment. Save criticism for private conversations.

You can think of many more. Start your own “Never Never list” and let it guide you throughout your career as a leader.