NextGen Know-How: The Leadership Detox

healthy foods and grains spell detox
Laurie Maddalena, MBA, CPCC, PHR Photo
Executive Coach/Consultant
Envision Excellence

5 minutes

Rid yourself of these negative habits to boost your team’s success.

I love this time of year—warm weather is (almost) here, the flowers are starting to bloom (unless you’re up north!) and Cadbury Cream Eggs are available in stores. I have a weakness for those chocolaty eggs, and my family and friends know it. On the way home from the gym last week, I stopped at the store to buy (and quickly eat) two Cadbury Cream Eggs. When I arrived home, my husband had left me a gift—a box of four cream eggs. I indulged some more. 

With Easter over, my husband and I are now on a health detox to get back on track. A detox helps to rid your body of toxic or unhealthy substances, resets your metabolism and helps you feel more energized and healthy. 

As leaders, we tend to slip into negative habits that don’t serve us. These habits keep us from operating at an exceptional level. Much like a health detox leaves you feeling refreshed, focused and more energized, we can detox our unhealthy leadership habits, so we can work at our peak. 

There are many negative habits that can hold leaders back from success; here are three common ones that keep leaders from working at their best and making a positive difference with their employees and in their credit union:

  1. Lack of focus: Most leaders struggle to prioritize their many projects and tasks and feel overwhelmed. 
  2. Lack of delegation: Many leaders struggle to operate at a strategic level. We often think the value we bring to the organization is our technical expertise. However, an exception leader is a facilitator, not a fixer. Focus on facilitating peak performance rather than getting in the weeds and fixing technical issues—let your team handle that.
  3. Lack of team engagement: Most leaders are so busy that the people side of business—coaching, feedback, development conversations—gets put on the back burner while they deal with operational issues. Or perhaps that one struggling employee is taking up most of your time and resources. Many managers take their best employees for granted and don’t invest time coaching or developing them.

To begin your detox, read through the sections below to learn how to eliminate your negative leadership habits and replace them with positive habits.

Gaining Clarity

The ability to focus is the most important skill for leadership today. To be able to focus, you need clarity. If you don’t have clarity around your strategic, departmental or daily goals, you will spin your wheels, spend your days putting out fires and not get anything of value accomplished. And yet, most leaders operate this way. 

Most leaders are activity focused, not results focused. If you don’t have clarity as a leader, this trickles down to your staff. They will also spin their wheels and struggle to know where to focus. You can be the smartest, most strategic, highly emotional intelligent leader, but if you can’t get the right things accomplished, and you can’t focus your team to get results, you will never be successful. 

What are some habits that contribute to lack of focus that you need to detox? 

Common examples: 

  • Not prioritizing your to-do list
  • Not taking the time to plan your day
  • Too many distractions
  • Email open all day
  • Not blocking time in your calendar to focus
  • Not scheduling priorities in your calendar

What are two positive habits you can implement to offset these negative habits?

Successful Delegation

The ability to delegate is one of the most important traits of a successful leader. In fact, lack of delegation is often the primary reason leaders aren’t successful. There are many reasons leaders don’t delegate, but one common reason is they get satisfaction from staying in the technical work.

For many people, the strategic elements of leadership—like coaching and developing employees, creating strategic plans and solutions, and engaging and leading a team—feel less tangible. Technical work feels more rewarding because we get the immediate satisfaction of checking things off a list. But when you delegate, you multiply your productivity, and you develop others on your team. 

What are some habits that contribute to lack of delegation?

Common examples: 

  • Wanting to control the outcome
  • Not trusting your staff to perform well
  • Not taking the time to teach someone on your team
  • Operating in activity mode, not accomplishment mode

What are two positive habits you can implement to offset these negative habits?

Team Engagement

Because most leaders feel overloaded and overwhelmed, they don’t prioritize coaching and developing employees, which often leads to lack of team engagement. 

What defines engagement? When employees invest a lot of energy in their work: physical, mental and emotional energy. An engaged employee is a person who is fully committed to and enthusiastic about his or her work.

Many leaders think engagement is about happy employees, but it’s also about having more productive employees. You want engaged employees because engaged employees work hard. A high performer can deliver 400 percent more productivity than the average performer

If you want engaged employees, you need to be an engaging leader. What are some habits that contribute to lack of engagement that you need to detox?

Common examples: 

  • Not getting to know your employees as individuals
  • Not providing meaningful feedback
  • Not meeting with employees regularly
  • Neglecting to coach and develop your employees
  • Focusing only on results and not on people

What are two positive habits you can implement to offset these negative habits?

Small habits are the foundation of success. If you detox the negative leadership habits that don’t serve you and focus on creating positive habits in these three areas this year, you will elevate your leadership and your team and set yourself up for exceptional results.

Laurie Maddalena, MBA, CPCC, PHR, is a certified executive coach, leadership consultant and founder of Envision Excellence, LLC in the Washington, D.C., area. Her mission is to create exceptional cultures by teaching leaders how to be exceptional. Maddalena facilitates management and executive training programs and team-building sessions and speaks at leadership events. Prior to starting her business, she was an HR executive at a $450 million credit union. Contact her at 240.605.7940 or

CUES Learning Portal