Leadership. Is there any topic concerning which more words have been written, more speeches given, more consulting fees generated? At last count there are presently over three billion books in print about leadership. (Okay, I made that up…but it must be a lot.)
Like you, I’ve worked for some terrific leaders — and I’ve worked for some who were, um, not so terrific. Talking about this with some friends this morning, we came up with at least four traits that we think render a leader ineffective. See if you agree with the Four i’s of Poor Leadership.
1. A poor leader is indecisive. This one stings a bit because I know in my past roles as a leader I have been guilty of stalling, analyzing, and debating some obvious decisions far past their expiration date. Those who look to you for leadership need you to be decisive. Remember, not to decide is to decide!
2. A poor leader is impulsive. This ready-fire-aim trait can unsettle everyone around you, as the boss’s project du jour suddenly sweeps aside all the really important priorities. If indecisiveness is at one end of the negativity scale, impulsiveness is probably at the other.
3. A poor leader is insulated. Leaders can hide behind their desks, their doors, their walls, their circle of self-serving advisors, and not listen to the inconvenient truth that those not on the “inside” are dying to disclose. This goes far beyond the world of business: how many politicians and religious leaders are brought low because they insulate themselves from the facts and refuse to be accountable?
4. A poor leader is insecure. I’m not talking about the brash pseudo-security that comes from an overpowering personality — that’s not true security. I mean the inner strength that says, “I know who I am. I know what I believe. And I am not at the mercy of the opinions of those around me.” (Personally I think that inner strength comes from our relationship with God.) Insecurity drives some leaders to feel they always have to be Mr. or Ms. Nice Guy, while others conclude they have to be Ms. or Mr. Dictator, constantly demanding my respect. Either way, I think insecurity is the at root of the problem.
So there are my Four i’s of Poor Leadership. What do you think? Any you’d like to add?