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Leaders should aim to never be a bottleneck in the process of building a healthy and growing organization. When this happens, progress stalls, growth is limited and people are frustrated. Here are seven characteristics of a bottleneck leader:

  1. Every decision ultimately goes through the leader.People are annoyed because they feel devalued—like their ability to make a good decision is in question. When everyone has to wait for the leader to make a decision, valuable time is wasted. Productivity slows. Frustration rises.
  2. New ideas or opinions are discouraged. People want to be a part of something bigger than them — and they want to play a part in helping it become a reality. When their input isn’t welcomed, they feel stifled, unfulfilled and unnecessary.
  3. The leader is change-resistant.Leadership in its very definition involves change. Leaders are taking people somewhere new. You can’t get to new without change. The leader should be among the least afraid of change on the team.
  4. There is no clear vision, or information isn’t readily available.People flounder because they don’t know what to do next. This bottleneck encourages laziness in some and discouragement in others. Leaders who spur movement in an organization are quick with information. They are transparent and continually share what they see as the future.
  5. The leader never delegates.When people feel empowered they think like “owners.” When the leader takes on unnecessary assignments, the leader is overburdened and the team is underutilized. Both suffer in the long term.
  6. Potential leaders aren’t recruited—they are controlled.Leaders are built through a recruit, invest and release process. When people are controlled, they never develop. And they learn to resent the leader.
  7. Only the leader can launch a new initiative. The best leaders I know encourage people to take a risk. They create a “go for it” environment. When only the leader is allowed to “pull the trigger,” the organization faces a huge opportunity cost.

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