Successfully leading a team isn’t easy.

The best leaders recognise this fact, and know they make mistakes. They understand there are often better ways to do things and that their ideas are not the only ideas worth pursuing.

They are also alert to the warning signs that signal their leadership may be faltering, or even in trouble.

But what are the warning signs to look out for? Here are six to consider.

1. Unwilling to change

It’s easy to get stuck in your ways and to see the traits that got you to your role as the skills and capability that will carry you forward. However, in a world that is constantly changing success requires leaders to embrace the notion that successful organisational transformation, requires not just change for those around them, but personal change for themselves.

Successful leaders are open to change and to trying new things and to thinking differently.

2. Smartest person in the room syndrome

The downfall of many great companies can be traced to the hubris and arrogance of its leaders. Having a fixed mindset, the leaders close themselves off from feedback and feel they have nothing more to learn. Seeing themselves as the smartest person in the room they believe there is nothing more to learn and so are unwilling to listen to others.

Successful leaders know there is always more to learn, and they don’t have the sole mandate on good ideas.

3. Surround themselves with sycophants

While surrounding yourself with “yes” people may make life easier in the short-term, it doesn’t create long-term, sustainable business outcomes.

Seeking out the differences of opinion is critical, because it is this diversity of thought that aids ‘out of the box’ thinking. Similarly, it is often the person with the dissenting opinion or probing questions who generates the unique perspective and who can see the missing piece of the puzzle.

4. Won’t hire people smarter than them

Everyone knows the criticality of getting the right people into the right roles. However, leaders can be uncomfortable to hire people who are smarter than them for fear it will show them up in some way.

However, successful leaders know that they can’t do it alone. They look for team members to complement and enhance their leadership and capability, and to help them execute their vision. As Jim Collins, the Author of “From Good to Great” said: “Great vision without great people is irrelevant.”

5. Only welcome good news

When only good news hits your desk it’s time to worry. If people hold off telling you what’s really going on it’s a sign they don’t trust how you will react to bad news.

It’s important to welcome all types of news – even news that is difficult to hear. Not only is your reaction a test of your character, it sets the standard for what happens in the future. If you shoot the messenger, next time an issue arises, you’re less likely to find people willing to alert you to it.

6. Play favourites

People are acutely aware when leaders treat people differently. How you allocate resources and rewards, and recruit and promote people is noticed. If the way you do this is perceived as unfair it will tarnish your reputation.

Successful leaders recognise that each person is unique and therefore has different needs. They strive to bring out the best in each person, and do so in a way in which people feel valued and respected.

Michelle Gibbings is a change and leadership expert, the founder of Change Meridian and author of ‘Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work’. Gibbings works with leaders and teams to help them accelerate progress.

This article was originally published on Women’s Agenda.

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