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The 9 bad habits of highly ineffective leaders

Richard Ross | Getty Images

Forget "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People," the website for the Harvard Business Review now has a list of the "9 Habits That Lead to Terrible Decisions."

Based on surveys, bad decision-makers share many of the worst traits. The No. 1 habit: laziness.

"This showed up as a failure to check facts, to take the initiative, to confirm assumptions, or to gather additional input. Basically, such people were perceived to be sloppy in their work and unwilling to put themselves out," according to the report co-authored by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman of the Zenger/Folkman leadership development consultancy.

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The other eight habits of highly ineffective leaders were: not anticipating unexpected events; indecisiveness; remaining locked in the past; having no strategic alignment; over-dependence; isolation; lack of technical depth; and failure to communicate the what, where, when, and how associated with their decisions.

The list of bad habits was culled from 51,000 surveys of leaders who have been through assessment courses with the firm and were flagged as bad decision-makers by their own bosses, their peers, the people who report to them and others.

"We went into the database and looked at people who made terrible decisions," Folkman told CNBC. Not surprisingly, they had a lot in common.

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Folkman said the idea for the research came from one of the firm's own bad decisions: launching "nagware," which was a daily reminder to people to take specific actions to meet their goals. Their failure, obvious in hindsight he said, was to make decisions without the required depth of expertise. And also, Folkman now says with a laugh, he should have asked himself: "Would you use this yourself?' 'No, I hate it.'"

—By CNBC's Amy Langfield

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