When we keep doing dumb stuff we can only reasonably expect to keep getting bad results! 

Here’s 15 dumb things to stop doing today – and what to try instead. What would you add?


1. Believing inclusion and equity is someone else’s problem

Try instead: Shift your gaze from looking at others to looking in the mirror. Check in with yourself on what you’re modeling and how you champion inclusion in your organization. Equity and inclusion are the responsibility of every leader.

2. Being scared of change

Try instead: Change is only fun when it’s happening to someone else, right? Well this notion keeps professionals from embracing change in their own careers and can stifle change in your organization. Learn to be a change enthusiast, the attitude will drive your abilities. Approach change as an opportunity, not a threat. 

3. Undervaluing ‘soft skills’ like empathy and communication

Try instead: Why do we call them “soft skills”? The origins of the term show how it has been misinterpreted over time. I prefer the term “essential skills” because that’s what they are. The misnomer lessens the value of these critical interpersonal skills, making it difficult to prioritize. So start by calling them what they are and putting them in their proper place for yourself and your team.

4. Neglecting to invest in your people

Try instead: The growth and development of your people is one of the most important responsibilities of a leader. Put not only their continued education in the budget, but also the costs of supporting and celebrating them. The return you’ll get on the investment shows up in their retention and engagement in the organization. 

5. Missing the opportunity of connecting DEI to your vision, values and business goals 

Try instead: Fostering inclusion and promoting equity can’t be simply side ideas in your organization. They should be connected to your business vision and managed as a core competency for every leader.

6. Expecting your marginalized employees to do the educating for you

Try instead: To increase your understanding and cultural competency, don’t overburden members of the groups you need to learn about. Certainly, asking questions expresses interest and can be a relationship builder, but turning those questions into an assignment for the very people DEI is supposed to support can easily become a burden. Find resources that will help fill in the gaps in your knowledge and curiosity. Take personal responsibility for understanding different cultures and backgrounds. You won’t learn them all, but remain curious and keep learning. Your effort will be rewarded with trust.

The growth and development of your people is one of the
most important responsibilities of a leader.

7. Believing everyone’s experience is the same

Try instead: Recognize that the world is not a monolith. People have different experiences, and even the same experiences will evoke different responses. Practice empathy, which reminds us that our feelings and experiences are not the same as everyone around us. Take time to step into someone else’s shoes and see an issue (or the lunchroom) from their perspective.

8. Box checking

Try instead: Real progress doesn’t come from just checking boxes. Transformation comes from time and commitment. Make your change initiatives a priority and give them the resources needed.

9. Forgetting that technology is the tool not the goal

Try instead: Using technology as the means to an end. If you’ve launched a new tool, know that it will not change people or behaviors but with proper training and consistent use, technology should enhance what you do.

10. Relying on what you learned years ago

Try instead: Keep learning new skills, and take refreshers on the ones you have. The world is ever-changing, and what you knew of any given subject say, 10 years ago, needs to be re-evaluated. Remember the planet Pluto?

11. Not involving your people in change

Try instead: Pushing change along without buy-in is futile. Engage your people in the change initiatives you want to lead and empower them to lead it with and for you… it will go much further!

12. Leading without compassion

Try instead: Gone are the days of thinking employees were robots, clocking in and out, mechanically getting on with their day. Modern leaders understand the complexity of human nature and incorporate that in their leadership. Treat each individual you lead with compassion.

13. Forgetting your purpose

Try instead: Remember that inner drive and direction that you spent time discovering? Don’t forget what it is and where it’s taking you. Reconnect with your purpose daily to ensure that your goals and actions are in alignment with your purpose.

14. Pushing people down instead of lifting them up

Try instead: Trying to get ahead at someone else’s expense isn’t only wrong, it’s a fool’s errand. Be supportive of those around you, and reap the benefits of a reputation built on integrity, compassion, and support. That reputation will enter a room long before you do.

15. Not setting yourself up for success 

Try instead: Setting safe goals or unattainable goals are both ways to limit your success. Commit to goals that will move you ahead and create habits around acknowledging those goals. Be your own player, coach, and cheer squad!