There are plenty of characteristics you can develop if you want to become a successful entrepreneur.
But it’s not just about developing good traits to help you succeed in the long run. You also want to avoid toxic business behaviors that can drag you down.
As you prepare to lead your company forward, make sure you pay attention to the types of behaviors you adopt. You want to project confidence and self-discipline, and follow best practices without falling into some of the traps that can ruin your reputation.
Here are seven toxic business behaviors to avoid so you can continue to grow as a business leader:
First of all, it’s important to understand the difference between self-confidence and arrogance. Arrogance is the idea that you are better than others and have nothing left to learn. That you can do no wrong.
The reality is that we all make mistakes. Believing that you don’t, and that everyone around you is wrong, is one of those toxic business behaviors that can backfire.
Instead, be humble enough to learn from your failures. We all have them. The most successful business owners and entrepreneurs use their failures as teachers to help them move forward and change the way they do things.
You — and your business — will be better when you turn your back on arrogance and instead learn to accept that you don’t have all the answers.
2. Viewing Everything as a Zero-Sum Game
A lot of the time, in business, we look at things in terms of “winners” and “losers.” We think that we have to “beat” others.
However, not everything is a zero-sum game. There are instances where it makes sense to form partnerships.
And, of course, when you are creating a workplace culture, you want to make sure that you aren’t encouraging toxic competition among your workers. Instead, the focus should be on creating a cooperative environment in which everyone feels they have a stake. You want your employees to feel ownership in the success of your business. They will be more loyal and work harder for you.
Lead others by showing them how you can work together for a better business and a better world.
3. Giving Into Groupthink
It’s true that sometimes we have to bow to social convention. But that’s not always the case. On top of that, doing something just because everyone else is doing it rarely gets you very far in business or in life.
Take the time to ask yourself why something is the way it is, or how something might be changed for the better. Critical thinking is a skill that seems in short supply today. The business leader who employs it can make a positive difference.
So, rather than getting caught up in groupthink, make it a point to question a bit. No, you don’t want to shock for the sake of shocking. But there’s nothing wrong with looking to blaze a better pathway to the future. You won’t be a true leader if you’re always following the crowd.
4. Acting in a Passive-Aggressive Manner
Passive-aggressiveness is among the most toxic business behaviors. This is basically when you tell others what you think will make them happy before going off and doing something else. You think you’re doing a good thing by avoiding conflict, or you think you’re protecting someone else.
However, that doesn’t help you as a business leader. Instead, it earns you a reputation of being two-faced and toxic. You don’t want to pretend like everything is fine and then go behind others’ backs to work against them.
Plus, it can wreck your own plans. Especially if people start treating you the same way you treat them.
Whether you act this way in business deals, with your employees, or in other settings, it sets you up for failure. People learn not to trust what you say, and no successful entrepreneur can function that way.
5. Not Worrying About HR
For many young and growing companies, human resources is the last thing on the mind. After all, it seems like you don’t need the HR department early on. However, the reality is that HR can help you set a positive company culture.
On top of that, a good HR department can help you stay on top of laws and regulations. Your HR department will pay attention to your workers, and take the temperature of the company. Plus, they can set up a grievance process. HR professionals are trained in these things.
You might be surprised at how much being dimissive of the HR department can be in the long run. Instead, try to get an HR professional involved as early in the process as you can so that you start off on the right foot. Establishing a positive company culture early on is a great way to help your business.
6. Making it About You All the Time
Do you make it about you all the time?
One of the toxic business behaviors is focusing on you so much that you take attention from the business. If you are more worried about getting personal publicity and earning personal accolades, it will be hard for you to get ahead with your business.
Plus, making it about you means it’s not about the business. If you are an attention hog too much, one slip up could destroy your business. Making the business inseparable from your larger-than-life personality can be a huge mistake in the long run.
On top of that, employees and others get tired of such antics. They want to know that you appreciate them. If you make everything about you, you aren’t giving credit where credit is due. Spread some of the credit around. Step back from the spotlight.
And focus on what’s best for the business. You’ll find more success.
7. Putting on a Persona
Are you putting on a persona, rather than being genuine?
While we all have slightly different versions of ourselves that we present to the world, you still want to be yourself.
This doesn’t mean that you have to tell everyone everything about yourself. However, it does mean that you don’t want to be disigenous. Don’t exaggerate your accomplishments. Don’t act like someone you’re not.
We’re sometimes told that you should “fake it till you make it.” That’s not always the best strategy. In some cases, it can backfire horribly. Instead, let people see who you are. Show that you are a human, and that you make mistakes sometimes, and don’t get caught up in what you think a business leader is “supposed” to be.
Reflect on Yourself
Reflect on how you’ve been as a leader. Do you engage in some of these toxic business behaviors. I catch myself doing some of these things sometimes. I’m trying to work on improving the way I interact with others in the organizations I lead.
The idea is to become a better person day by day. Even if you aren’t a leader yet, it can help to reflect on your interactions with others and change things if necessary. A little self-reflection can go a long way if you want to eventually become the leader you are meant to be.