I once worked for someone – we’ll call him George (name changed to protect the innocent). George, despite being assigned a title that reflected leadership, was quite possibly the worst leader I’ve ever encountered. However, being someone who believes that there is something to be learned from every situation, I did glean some wisdom as a result of the experience. What could I possibly learn from perhaps the world’s worst leader you ask? I learned how to suck as a leader (should you ever want to).
Leadership is not easy, nor is it a responsibility to be taken lightly. When you are in a position of leadership you are accountable for certain results and to certain people. You are also bear a huge burden in regard to the success of the organization and the people you’re leading. There are some general principles that, if followed, will help you become a successful leader and one people will want to follow. On the flip-side, there are certain practices, should you engage in them, that will certainly yield horrid results. It’s mostly common sense, but in the heat of leading, if these principles aren’t second nature to us, we run the risk of demonstrating poor leadership.
So, if you’ve decided you want to suck as a leader, here are ten suggestions. I’ll share them in this three-part series.
- Make it all about you. This is probably the worst of the offenses. If we focus on ourselves, most of the other negative behaviors will simply be a natural byproduct of our narcissism. Remember, you’re a leader and you’re responsible for those you’re leading. Focusing on you isn’t helpful for anyone, and that includes yourself.
- Don’t worry about serving those you lead. Over the past few years, the term servant leadership may have been overused and the concept may now seem tired and dated, but that’s not the case. It is incredibly important for us, as leaders, to be willing to serve those whom we lead. They will serve us, and our cause, much more passionately and effectively when they know we’re willing to put our money where our mouth is and be servants ourselves.
- Be sure everyone knows how much you know. No one likes a know it all. Think about it. You’re not fond of that guy… you know, the one who seems to have an answer for everything and, no matter the topic, presents himself as the authority in the room. You’re job isn’t to know it all. You’re job is to build a team of people who will, as a group, have a deep well of knowledge. Once you build this team, you must let them perform. Trust there judgement, listen to their ideas, and reward their creativity and innovative thinking.
- Don’t think or talk about the future. If I get in my car and head out on a trip, I don’t worry so much about where I’ve been. I’m far more interested in where I’m going. As leaders, it is our job to focus on, and talk about, where we’re headed. The past is the past. While we can, and should, learn from the past, an unhealthy focus on what’s already happened is tremendously unproductive. Think about and plan for the future. And talk about those plans often. Let everyone on your team know your destination and how you plan to get there. Everyone will feel a lot better about the journey they’re on.
In part two of this series, we’ll look at three more ways to suck as a leader. Don’t miss it!
“Leadership is intentional influence.” ~ Michael McKinney
Question: Which of the four poor leadership practices listed above do you need to be more intentional about avoiding?