Making good leadership decisions can be tough for entrepreneurs suddenly tasked with managing people and enterprises. Our brain doesn't develop neuropathways at the flip of a switch. It may take years for new habits to become second nature.

Science confirms that the best of leaders, who grasp concepts like influence, emotional intelligence, and authentic listening, arrive there through hard work and practice. There is no magic pill.

How to Get the Ball Rolling

If you're serious about your leadership growth, here's your first lesson: Leaders who "get" how their thinking and behaviors impact others will shift perspective by first inviting feedback.

And those humble enough to let new insight sink in will develop one of the pillars of great leadership: self-awareness. Now you're on your way.

You see, with self-awareness accountability blooms. Leaders can take the responsibility of owning up to "their stuff" when "their stuff" is at fault. Remember the old saying, "For every finger you point, there's three pointing back at you"?

Yes, how a leader thinks and reacts to things inside his or her 8-to-5 fishbowl is crucial for business. No, I'm not speaking of commonsense thinking like an all-company memo to remind people about the abuse of some company policy.

I'm talking about high-functioning thinking patterns that lead to behaviors that foster mutual trust, respect, and inclusiveness. It's the soft stuff that matter most.

On the flip side, dysfunctional thinking patterns that lead to poor decision making and low social or emotional intelligence are the sure path to a toxic work culture.

Please Don't Think This Way

In my line of work, I've seen many distorted thinking patterns in my clients that science confirms are signs of dysfunctional leadership.

These thought patterns hold leaders back, destroy their self-esteem, and damage relationships in the workplace. Here are 10 that you must avoid like the plague:

1. VERY EXTREME: Seeing things in black and white, and blowing things out of proportion.

2. VERY BROAD: Generalizing from a specific; labeling people rather than their behaviors.

3. VERY NEGATIVE: Seeing the glass as half empty and dwelling heavily on the worst possible outcome.

4. VERY DEMANDING: Wanting things their way and having expectations that cloud a sense of reality.

5. VERY JUDGMENTAL: Condemning others for their shortcomings and being unable to forgive.

6. VERY OBSESSED: Getting on a track of being unable to budge or view things differently; persevering about something that is out of their control.

7. VERY CONFUSED: Having pictures in their heads that do not match the "real world"; having a hard time seeing things without denial, blame, and negativity.

8. VERY INTOLERANT: Having a need to have things the way they "should be"; finding it difficult to have patience and tolerance for differences that don't fit their needs and expectations.

9. VERY PERFECTIONISTIC: Having a need to be "right" and not make mistakes, as that would mean one is inferior or a failure; having permeating low self-esteem.

10. "SHOULDING" ON SELF AND OTHERS: Placing expectations of how people "should" be, thereby limiting their ability to accept themselves and others without judgment, leading to negativity and the tendency to criticize.

As you consider some of the points above, what resonates with you as a leader and entrepreneur? Which aspects may be the hardest to deal with?

Published on: Apr 27, 2016
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