9 Good Intentions That Aggravate Your Team

I aggravate the teams I lead and the leaders I follow. You do too, even when you’re trying to help. Most aggravating leadership starts with good intentions.

9 Good Intentions that Aggravate Your Team

Beware of these easy traps:

  1. Just Trying To Help – Before you know it, your well-intentioned advice is over-bearing. Hanging around with your sleeves rolled up is ticking them off. Those “how’s it going” stop-ins, feel like “helicoptering.” They need space to try, grow and fail. Let them.
  2. Building Consensus – You want to build consensus. But that takes time, and people want to move. Resist the urge to over-stakeholder. Stop worrying about everyone’s feelings. Find the balance between consensus and action.
  3. Looking For The Best Solution – You want to get it right and there are so many ways to approach the problem. You keep searching, and encourage your team to find the best solution. At some point, enough is enough. Make a plan and move on.
  4. Asking For Input – You ask for input, but you have strong opinions. When you ask, but don’t listen. You really tick them off. Don’t ask if you plan to eventually to tell.
  5. Big New Ideas – Your team loves your energy and big ideas. But, sometimes you’re confusing. Be sure to link this new idea with the bigger strategy. Stop changing gears every time you have an energetic burst. Be sure you follow-through.
  6. Being Nice – Can lead to wimpy feedback. If it’s bad, say so. They want to know the truth.
  7. Team Building – You’re working hard to build a great team. Conflict is part of that. Stop avoiding controversial topics. Let them argue. Get uncomfortable. You will all emerge stronger.
  8. Grooming – You want them to learn from your mistakes. You know the best way to act in certain scenarios. But times are changing, and they’ve got other input as well. Be sure you leave room in the development process for them to become their best selves. (see also, Are We Over-Grooming Our Leaders)
  9. Note: So grateful for the crowd sourcing from the Lead With Giants, Lead Change, and Center For Creative Leadership Communities providing input on this post. Namaste.

    *Photo by Larry Kohlenstein

Posted in Employee Engagement & Energy, Results & Execution.

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, Founder of Let’s Grow Leaders, helps leaders around the world achieve breakthrough results, without losing their soul. A former Verizon Wireless executive, she has over two decades of experience in sales, customer service, and HR. She was recently named on Inc's list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers and American Management Association's 50 Leaders to Watch. She’s the author of 3 books: Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul, Overcoming an Imperfect Boss, and Glowstone Peak.


  1. Excellent stuff Karin! One that I would add is “Don’t just tell. Show.” As leaders we must remember our team will do what they see. You also hit a nerve with me when you talked about “Asking for input.” Nothing is more insulting than being asked for input and it being quickly dismissed. Even if it is a horrible idea, at least give it a few minutes before shutting it down. Argh!!!

  2. Dave, yes! Telling without showing can be frustrating. And yeah, the asking for input one is one of my personal biggies.. I try to be really careful of that as a leader… if I really don’t want input, it’s better not to ask.

  3. I read your list and the word that jumped into my head was “empowerment”. Usually this word is reserved for what an individual can give to another individual, but in this case, these 8 “qualities” are all about stripping empowerment from the team. How can I best dis-empower a team? Check out the list.
    On the other hand, to empower a team, struggle to yield control, fight to observe from a distance, make an effort to listen to reports, just listen.
    Last night I had a similar experience. A 6th grade teacher at my church asked if I could help by driving some of her students to a temple this evening for a “neighboring faiths” visit. I coordinate the class but I am not a teacher. I replied that she should first try to rely on other teachers and parents first and see if they can come up with a solution from their own immediate resources. My hope is that as I keep my distance, the teachers and the parents grow and find solutions from within. Isn’t that, in part, what leadership is all about?

  4. I love how you reached out to the leaders in the community and synthesized all the wonderful ideas, Karin! You really are great at listening and integrating concepts and suggestions. That is the sign of a great leader who we love to learn from!

    It does get tricky for leaders to know when to stop brainstorming and just make a decision. As much as we want to make sure no stone is left unturned, action is essential. Knowing when to say to ourselves: The time is now.

    Thanks for a great post!

  5. Great post, Karin. The first thing I thought was of was “insincere feedback.” You touch upon the idea in “Be Nice” but sometimes we take the easy way out and just say whatever we think others want to hear instead of taking the time to provide sincere and thoughtful feedback.

    Like Terri, I love the way you’ve crowdsourced this info via the LWG community…you’ve inspired me to do something similar!

  6. GREAT LIST…..Love the blog post.

    I would add EVERY team must have an open mind, open heart and open will.
    the intelligence to learn from each other. (mind)
    the wisdom to trust the creativity process (heart)
    the recognition that we may learn something new from each other. (will)


    Lead From Within

    • I learned many years ago from a world class mentor that there is only ever one shared value that, if adopted by everyone, will reliably generate a great team: Openness. That learning has been responsible for every professional success since (and all failures can be attributed to one or more team members who refused the invitation to openness).

      I do like the way it was broken down here into openness of mind, heart and will. If I were to put these levels of openness in order of their appearance, it would be heart first, then mind, then will.

  7. I thought of one, “Promises….unkept.” I have heard leaders in my life make promises and then they never followed through. They lose credibility. And, I’m talking about even small promises that could have easily been kept.

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