Recently, after using our blog to profile some of our favourite leaders of the 21st century, we came to an interesting conclusion – poor leaders can be just as inspiring as strong ones, for very different reasons. It turns out that it can be equally as valuable to learn from those who rose to the top of their game, as it is from those who have fallen by the wayside. After close inspection and introspection, here are our top tips on how NOT to be a leader.
Run a dysfunctional team
If you’re looking to fail as a leader, the best place to start is by running a dysfunctional team. The surest way to guarantee that your team is as ineffective as possible is by avoiding the popular book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. This book follows a former CEO who transforms a dysfunctional group of executives into a cohesive and effective team by confronting the five key behaviours that destroy most teams. Based on this book, the dysfunctions you’ll want to harness as a poor leader include lack of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results. A poor leader will always encourage these skills over the willingness for teams to be honest and vulnerable, constructive in their approach, accountable for their actions and wishing the best for their team as a whole.
Always put yourself first
With a solidly dysfunctional team in place, a poor leader looking to fail will most surely do so if they always put themselves first. Greed and self interest are sure signs of a poor leader, as are those who point the finger in the other direction when things go wrong. Successful examples of leaders who blame others first are abundant in the world of politics. Gordon Brown is a prime example of being a loyal supporter to Blair until things started to unravel, at which point he quickly looked the other way. The interesting thing about putting yourself first as a leader is that, no matter how credible you may be in your role, you’ll be sure to lose supporters – and fast.
Be resistant to change
If you want to maintain your status as a poor leader, it’s best to be resistant to change at every chance you get. By rejecting anything new that comes your way and chalking it up to hype which will never last, your skills will become redundant, your approach outdated and your outlook a thing of the past – in more ways than one. A strong leader knows that the rules of business are always changing, and they will encourage new approaches and ways of doing things. Since strong leaders like to round out their team, they may even recruit employees who have skills they do not themselves possess and are unlikely acquire in their career. But as a poor leader, not to worry, there’s no need to bother yourself with that. Look at Yahoo, who seemed to dismiss all that hype about their ever-evolving competitors, Google. Only now they have started to turn the corner.
Follow the crowd
To remain a poor leader, you should follow the emotion of the crowd. There’s no point leading by example, challenging yourself and others, discovering new ways of doing things or encouraging new ways of thinking when there’s more than enough people doing that already. If you’ve managed to miss out on the key changes in your industry, it’s not too late to remain a poor leader. Simply follow those who look like they know more than you, and you’ll be certain to go off track. Whether those are the ‘cool leaders’ or dysfunctional mavericks, or just people that seem to know what they are talking about – you might as well give it a go. For inspiration, look no further than the mighty penguin – known for letting others take the lead – quite literally.
Be too busy to be observant
Strong leaders know how important it is to separate what’s important from what is urgent. Poor leaders, on the other hand, may prefer to work themselves to the bone while focusing on the smaller – versus the bigger – picture. These leaders are not concerned with working smarter, as long as they are working very, very hard. After all, in today’s multi-tasking world, we all know that being busy means being important. Take this prime example. Not long ago, violinist Joshua Bell was busking at a busy subway station in America. This is a musician for whom you’d normally have to pay handsomely to watch live. During rush hour, almost everyone walked past him during their busy daily routine. The only person who paid attention was a small child, perhaps a strong leader in the making, who was able to see the world from another point of view. The lesson learned? If you’re too busy or self-involved to appreciate what is in front of you, there’s a good chance you’ll miss out on great opportunities too.
Make sure everyone on your team is just like you
To demonstrate your lack of leadership skills over the long term, you should recruit in your own image. It’s a classic problem that we see everywhere. It’s true that even strong leaders fall into this trap, though they are usually quick to rectify it when it’s brought to their attention. However, poor leaders embrace it. Because if you recruit in your own image, you lose the chance to balance your team, add different perspectives, and encourage a global, diversified mindset. Look around your office. Do most of your employees look like you, from a similar race, background and income bracket? Do they have similar interests and are on a similar career track? Strong leaders might stop to ponder this fact. As a poor leader, don’t change a thing. After all, what’s the point of balancing your natural strengths with a team that complements your skills, when you can simply duplicate them?
Never, ever share ideas or credit
A good leader shares ideas and thoughts. They also share credit where credit is due. If you want to remain a poor leader, it’s best to keep your ideas, and the credit, to yourself. Take Microsoft for example. The protective nature of their development of ideas and success may have worked – but this close-minded approach will eventually lead to others going somewhere else to create the new best thing. The power of ‘open source’ on the web will eventually surpass the huge, slow to turn, ‘oil tanker’ that is Microsoft.
For advice on how to be a strong leader, contact us today for more information about our leadership programmes and workshops hosted across the globe.