RobinHiggins / Pixabay

Did you know that by removing just a few unimportant things from your life, you can become an unmatched leader?

“If you want to become a better leader, you must keep adding new skills, habits, and professional experience to your arsenal.” This is a commonly assumed notion in the business world, and there is definite merit to it.

While that helps, however, I’ve discovered that getting rid of a few existing habits can be equally effective in helping you rise to leadership.

Hence, this is one truth that every leader needs to be aware of: it’s not just what you doevery day that defines your leadership; what you don’t do counts just as much.

“A leader must give up, going up.” – John C. Maxwell.

Professionals understand that leadership requires great sacrifice. That often includes giving up simple things that you put value on, for the sake of self-betterment.

I’ve personally found that more often than not, it’s the little changes we make in our daily routines that amount to extraordinary results.

If you are on the path to becoming a leader, or you are a leader who seeks to rise to greater success, consider letting go of these 5 common habits:

1. Give Up Gossip and Backbiting

Successful leaders do not practice backstabbing as a rule because they prefer to tell people what they think directly to their face in a diplomatic fashion.

Great leaders are wary of gossip and backbiting because they understand that what goes around comes around.

In order to improve your leadership ability, you must opt for transparency and sharing meaningful feedback with your peers and employees.

Likewise, you must also discourage gossip in the workplace, not just refrain from participating in it yourself. Gossip destroys credibility and wears trust down. It actively works against the paradigm of a healthy corporate culture, creating political discord and emotional uneasiness among workers. Resultantly, your and your team’s performance are undermined due to backbiting and gossip.

2. Give Up on Always Saying Yes

Successful leadership doesn’t entail spearheading every project that comes your way; equally important are the projects you decide not to pursue.

You may feel the urge to accept new initiatives for your company to tackle, but ensure that the undertaking is beneficial and practical for the organization’s business objectives.

Psychologically speaking, people tend to say “yes” far too often and overcommit to tasks because they have an inherent aversion to disappointment.

However, remember that as a leader, your integrity is contingent upon your ability to follow throw on every commitment.

Great leaders understand that it’s okay to say “no” to opportunities from time to time – and their team is thankful to them for it. Saying yes to everything can lead to you and your employees becoming overwhelmed, and they may even stop viewing you as much of a decisive leader.

3. Give Up on being a Perfectionist

Top leaders understand that if they become obsessed with making every detail “perfect”, they’ll prevent their team from becoming as productive as it could have been. Pragmatic leaders accept that sometimes, “good” is good enough.

It’s great to be proud of the work you accomplished, but when perfectionism gets in the way of getting things done, productivity suffers and frustrations rise.

Realize that every minute you spend perfecting your work is a minute that you’re not working on something else (think opportunity cost). The perfectionist mind-set also derails you from focusing on the value that your work brings.

4. Give Up Complaining

One of the cardinal signs of a great leader is that they don’t like to complain. They realize that less people are likely to follow the lead of someone with a habit of complaining about problems rather than proactively looking for solutions.

Remember that every time you complain, you are, in the eyes of your stakeholders and your team, abdicating personal responsibility.

It’s true that we as leaders definitely have more “legitimate” reasons to complain than the average person.

However, by complaining about any problem, we appear to surrender our own power to deal with that problem (at least from the perspective of an onlooker). Complaining does the opposite of inspiring and motivating those around us.

5. Give Up Fear of Failure

Most people have an inherent fear of failure that typically stems from being socially programmed to believe that failure is a very negative and shameful thing.

And yet, the most successful leaders accept that failure is a necessary and unavoidable part of life. They count every step they take, and understand that one step out of hundreds is bound to be a failure. They make their peace with failure and move on from it, on to better prospects and new beginnings.

Consider how unreasonable it is to expect yourself or your team to complete each task perfectly on the first try. Failure is not a humiliating disaster that means you are not meant for leadership, failure simply means that you have made mistakes which you can learn from to improve your future practices.

Rather than dwelling in embarrassment and self-loathing because of a few mistakes, focus on embracing failure as a valuable learning opportunity.

Indeed, the world’s greatest leaders do not even attempt to mask their failures; they simply determine where they went wrong and focus their energy and efforts on getting back on track with an updated business plan and a reinforced course of action.