• Erin Engelke

Four Things to Stop Doing Now as a Leader


Erin Engelke is Executive Director of Calm Waters, OKC's Grief Center.

Despite our best intentions as leaders, sometimes we don’t always get it right. Usually, it’s because of our own insecurities or blind spots when it comes to the areas we need to change. After working under a wide variety of leaders as well as serving as a leader for over 20 years, I have learned what creates a successful leader and what doesn’t. Here’s my list of the top four things to stop doing immediately if you are in a role of leadership.

1. Stop believing you are an imposter.


For heaven’s sake, stop believing the lies inside your head that say you are not all you say you are…that your skills and accomplishments are a lie and that you will be discovered to be a fraud. You got where you are because you do know what the heck you are doing.


You are more capable than you even realize and as long as you are focusing on the right values…and you have the right character traits….you are exactly who you say you are.

Instead, shift your mindset and believe you can do this. If there are areas you need to grow in or better understand, that’s doable! Find help. Delegate. Seek professional development or a mentor in your field. But focusing on the negative about yourself will cause you to behave in ways that are detrimental and degrading to yourself, your staff and business.


2. Stop micro-managing your team.


You hire your staff because you believe they have the skills and character to do the job, right? So why do you meddle in their work? Micro manage their day to day tasks? Because you either don’t trust them completely or because you struggle with your own self confidence and need for control. In every interview I conduct with potential new staff, when I ask them the question, “What kind of supervisor do you thrive under?”, 100% of them respond with “Someone who gives me the autonomy to do my job and doesn’t micro manage my work.”


The more you attempt to control your employees, the more they will feel frustrated and incompetent and will ultimately seek another leader to work with.

3. Stop thinking you know it all.


As much as you’d like to think you do, you don’t. No one does. You are the leader because you have the ability to make decisions, to solve problems, to set vision and to ensure your team is supported, but you can’t do it all. No one ever said you had to.


We are all in a constant state of learning, regardless of how many years we’ve been in your position or industry.

One of the most endearing aspects of our role as a leader is to be humble and willing to admit (when appropriate) that we don’t have all the answers. I became a Vice President at a very young age (only 25 years old!) and naively though I needed to have it all together when in fact, that made me less approachable with my team. Some level of transparency is needed, friends. As much as your staff need to know their leader has things under control, they also want to know their leader isn’t perfect AND that they need them. Lean on them in times you don’t have all the answers! They may surprise you with how much they can teach you.


4. Stop being the martyr.


You need a break too. Carrying the weight of a business, department, a team is SO MUCH. And it has the ability to burn you out, especially if you don’t take the time to take care of yourself. Don’t “take one for the team” every single day. Instead, model for your team what self-care looks like. Take a mental health day. Go on vacation (and don’t check email while you’re gone!). Work out daily. You absolutely have to be in a good place mentally and physically first or you will not be all you need to be for your team.

Which of these four things do you need to stop doing today?

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