When Leaders Get It Wrong — How To Prevent Losing Respect And Influence

Rowan Blair Colver
4 min readMay 10, 2021


Lucid Leadership by Rowan B. Colver

Everyday Leadership Pitfalls

Leaders have to be self-confident. The level of self-doubt has to be minimal and their confidence in their ability to succeed has to outweigh this. Leaders, therefore, have to have a high opinion of themselves. Confidence can become arrogance when we do not extend the same respect of opinion to those around us. If we as the leader allow ourselves the high ground then it’s our job to help those we lead to stay on the ground too. Pushing people down to make us seem on higher ground is where it can quickly go wrong. If someone feels degraded, undermined, or ignored, they will stop investing their esteem in the source of this judgement.

What Is High Self-Esteem?

Self-esteem must be based on facts and not an untrue image. Many people have an image of their better version that they assume everyone sees. We often don’t see this, and we have all kinds of background leadership-based mental images that play into what we perceive. So any opportunity for heuristic psychology to latch on to a negative outlook will result in a confirmation bias. We must be very careful not to allow these false signs and patterns to materialise.

Who We Really Are

Basing our self-perception on a genuine image requires us to reflect on who we are and how we have behaved up until now. Knowing that we come from a unique heritage and culture within a greater national identity can help us appreciate how we might look to those on the outside. Pride in our roots can manifest as a good thing when it is not seen as competitive and superior. As soon as we believe we are better than others because of where we come from, we stop identifying a person with their behaviour and character and begin identifying them as a member of a race. This is dehumanising and can lead to criminal racism.

What Can You Show For It?

Our level of self-esteem has to be based on our genuine successes. Success comes in many forms, and the individual person has their own ideas on what success actually looks like. So the primary job is to get paid, that’s why we go to work. But most of us want more than that, we want to get paid for doing something we enjoy and believe in. If we have had a history of a particular problem in our life, success could be simply not allowing that problem to manifest as often or at all. If we can base our self-perception on our successes and be aware of our weaknesses at the same time, we can offer a trustworthy self-image.

Respect Goes Both Ways

Leaders must project the same level of self-esteem they give themselves to others. The staff and customers alike have to feel empowered and worthy of the excellence you want to give. The notion of family, club, culture, and group all go into helping build loyalty, positive reviews, and growth. If we treat others as less than we are or as submissive people to our dominance, it will make people feel that they want to go elsewhere.

All For One And One For All

The values of a leadership team have to extend right into the whole group. This means that it’s important to highlight the times the values have been adhered to, especially if there was a low-road option that could have seen an easier solution but would have killed rapport. By drawing attention to the values you want to project at every opportunity, you reduce the risk of individuals putting their opposing views about values into the situation. Contrary behaviour can be natural for the individual but in relation to the group, looks and feels wrong.

Play Nice With Others

Where other teams come into the equation, we need to remember that they also have their own values and ideals. Other teams are just as keen on promoting their self-image and encouraging loyalty as you are. These ideals and methods can sometimes clash. If we want to work with organisations or alongside them, we need to guarantee that our processes and communications don’t undermine the efforts of other teams.

Lift People Up Or Leave Them Alone

Undermining the efforts of other people has to be avoided. In the world of work, we are dealing with pay-cheques, mortgages, bills, and bailiffs. If you wreck one person’s message or ability to earn because you undermine them, you are responsible for causing their lack of growth. It’s not a game of football where both teams get paid. You can’t destroy your opposition when that same opposition has mouths to feed and bills to pay. Instead, there are more opportunities if you work together to form a collaborative product.

Most Of All, Get Over Yourself

Leaders who use fear, emotional blackmail, moralising arguments, belittling, or other negative communication forms end up losing the respect of those they lead. Their teams stop being honest, they stop giving opportunities for input, and they begin to look for a way out. Domineering and demeaning leaders who have no care for how they make people feel will not inspire anything good in anyone.

Your next read? Positive Leadership: Strategies for Extraordinary Performance



Rowan Blair Colver

Music writer and humanities educator from Sheffield in England. Democracy of philosophy, comments are welcome. ko-fi.com/rowanblaircolver