The Character Flaw That Kills Leadership


I was reading Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality by Dr. Henry Cloud while taking a vacation with my wife, Jen, in Mexico. If you haven’t read this book yet make sure it’s on your MUST READ list.

I looked up from the book and said “Honey, am I impulsive?” She didn’t hesitate with an affirmative “Yes”. Brutal honesty in marriage is a wonderful thing. Impulsiveness was an issue for me and it was killing my leadership.

Impulsiveness is okay for a child but it’s dangerous for an adult. It’s even more treacherous for a leader.

For me, impulsiveness comes when I feel pressured or stressed and I just want to move forward with a solution. In my business, this character flaw has led me to say ‘yes’ to clients when I should have said ‘no’, costing us money and placing our team under unnecessary stress. In my personal life, I’ve bought a lousy timeshare too… yes, a freakin’ timeshare which I still regret to this day.

Impulsiveness also occurs when there is no plan. No guiding strategy that helps shape the constraints necessary to make wise decisions. It’s the difference between shopping with a list and budget and shopping without one. Guess which type of shopping will typically end with an impulse purchase?

As a leader, we must grow out of an impulsive tendency and, just like we did as children, learn how to apply some self-control and forethought to how we make decisions.