5 Things Lasting Leaders Refuse to Do

At the age of 24, I became a Probation Officer for the County of Alameda in the city of Oakland, California. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I couldn’t wait to start my new career. I wasn’t necessarily “fresh out of college,” as I had graduated two years prior with a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology but this was my first real job as up till that point, I’d been supporting myself as a professional make-up artist. I know, major jump from fashion to crime-stopping.

On my first day reporting to the Probation Center, I was immediately told I did not have a supervisor and that nobody was sure when I would have one. Also, I was informed I did not have an official caseload and nobody knew what types of offenders I would even end up supervising. In the interim, I had three (3) separate supervisors I would report to and five (5) “low” cases to supervise, which meant low-offending criminals who more-than-likely committed a burglary, sold some pot or possibly was a first-time offender at the time. Months went by reporting to these three separate supervisors who in essence, started to be at odds with each other regarding the various conflicting instructions they each were giving me.

Needless to say, I felt deflated, demotivated and demoralized.  And, extremely confused.  Ineffectively leadership much? I’ll say.

Just two-and-half years later, I decided to “go big” and become a fed. I was pretty much over the toxic, poisonous and backstabbing environment I had been working in as a county probation officer. There was very little encouragement and nearly everybody I worked with was miserable. I was nearly done with my Master of Science in Justice and felt working for the United States Federal Government would be the challenge I needed; would stimulate my intellect; and the cases would be more intense, complex and fun.

The cases were indeed more complex and intense, that’s for sure. It was amazing handling cyber-crime, white collar crime and bank robberies. But, sadly, leadership at this agency wasn’t any better. There was no support, harnessing of staff’s individual talent, and everybody was fighting to “get to the top” not for the betterment of the organization but solely for the betterment of one’s self.

Nearly seven (7) years later, I was out the door from this place, too.

In 2002, I discovered the world of Life Coaching. I threw my whole heart, soul, and mind into this industry. Life Coaching seemed to be the very thing I was seeking and I just loved the idea of inspiring others to their personal and professional greatness. I attended two different Life Coaching schools, got certified in 2003 as a Coach and have continued yearly to get certified in additional coaching programs and schoolings. I resigned from US Probation in December 2006 in order to work for myself as a Coach and Trainer and I’ve never looked back.  Life Coaching radically transformed my life and it was the first time I got to experience what true, positive lasting leadership looked like. My master coaches and mentor were heartfelt, kind, warm, compassionate yet challenging (in a good way) as hell!

The global economic crisis of 2008 brought me to working on projects in Angola, Africa and Kuwait where I got to interview the top leaders in both the private and public sectors. Many of these top leaders included: Ministers of Oil, Foreign Affairs, Health, Education, as well as heads of big investment firms, banking, and telecommunications companies. After working with federal and county judges in an advisory role, it was a lot of fun to see how foreign leaders dealt with the day-to-day.

To date, I get the amazing opportunity to work with Phd holders, CEO’s, COO’s, managers, directors, professors and scientists in customized coaching workshops that require personal and professional leadership and teamwork. And daily, I get to witness the leadership style of men, women, and many peoples from around the world. After working with thousands of people from North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, I’ve had the chance to compile some to-do’s and not-to-do’s in Leadership. Because we are in such a connected global economy, the power of purposeful and positive leadership is now more important than ever. After studying and observing some great and not so great leaders in the world since 1998, I think these 5 simple “don’t-do’s” will help you achieve the leadership status you so deserve.


5 Things Lasting Leaders Refuse to Do

  1. Steal Credit. Leaders who are remembered share the glory, value their colleagues, partners, employees and staff, and believe work, accomplishments and success is a “together” deal. Leaders who are remembered put others first and make people feel significant, special and that they matter. They would never dream of taking the credit of the work of others. In fact, many amazing leaders rarely take credit for the work they actually did do; they often say, “Without the help of my friends, family, staff, etc., none of this could have been accomplished.” And. They. Mean. It.
  2. Place Blame. Lasting leaders take responsibility and accountability for events as a whole. They realize placing blame on others will only bring shame, cause more problems, and never tackle the real issue. Blaming is an old bullying tactic many of experienced out at recess when others felt they couldn’t get their way. Lasting leaders have their “grown-up” pants now and find constructive ways to take corrective, supportive measures to address challenges and obstacles.
  3. Use Segregating Speak. There’s little room for the word “I” when it comes to leaders who are leaving a legacy. Effective leaders use a lot of “Inclusive” speak such as,” We’ve had some challenges and together, it’s absolutely possible to overcome them and succeed, “ or, “Let’s all put our heads together and see what we can do to make it a great day!” The leader throws himself/herself into the mix by using words such as, “We, together, all, our, us, let’s” and people feel facilitated rather than segregated.
  4. Focus on the problem. Lasting leaders have no time to focus on problems; they come from a state of solution-based-thinking where they are always brainstorming ways to seek out the next solution or positive perspective. Loyal leaders realize that focusing on problems only causes more problems while choosing to see solutions leads to fast and sufficient solutions sooner.
  5. Destroy relationships. Recently while coaching one of my coaching clients, she shared that her director advised the entire department that when if her contract wasn’t going to be renewed then it was her intention to leave a legacy of destroying all the relationships under her tutelage before her exit! It literally took everything out of me to remain neutral, bite my tongue and not scream. There’s no place for envy, jealousy, back-biting, rumor-spreading, gossip, or knocking others down when it comes to solid leadership. Good leaders build relationships rather than destroy them.
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About Laurie Santos

Owner and Founder of Extreme Dream Training. Certified Life Coach, Master Reiki Healer, Certified Law of Attraction Expert, Certified EFQM Assessor. Surfer, expat, lover of animals, poetry and silence.


  1. Laurie,
    I treasure the 5 points you have made above. I would even differentiate between a great leader, a good leader and a bad leader. The great leader doing everything you said, using the terminology: we, us, together, etc. and has the radio station WIFY written all over; whereas the good leader still slips in “I have done this, I have succeeded in”… The bad leader is all about him/herself and has the radio station WIFM on the forehead. In short, WIFY = What’s in it for YOU, and WIFM= what’s in it for me. It does not take much thought to figure out who to listen to. For me it’s the WIFY leader/coach, just as yourself! Thanks for sharing.

    • Laurie Santos says:

      So happy you treasure the 5 points above! I hope the info I continue to blog about continues to inspire, motivate and empower you. Sending my best. Yours in Extreme Dream Success, Laurie

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