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Ten Reasons Why
You SUCK as a Leader
We’ve all seen bad leaders who have reached
positions of authority without having man...
1. Your confidence is not courage.
People often confuse confidence with courage. You can
fake confidence but not courage. ...
2. You think humility is a sign of
weakness
You show confidence and bravado but lack any
humility and consider humility a ...
3. You care what people think about you,
not what they think about.
Your self-consciousness is based on the insecurity of
...
4. You talk more than you listen
You learn nothing while you’re talking. You surround
yourself with friends and people who...
5. Your inaction speaks louder than
your lofty words
You delegate everything except taking credit and you
hire consultants...
6. You lack integrity
You may be able fool all of the people some of the
time but that time will soon pass. People have
me...
7. Failure terrifies you.
You act like you’re infallible. Have you never taken
risks or just never taken the blame? Who ha...
8. You so want to be a leader
Your ego drove you to become a leader and we all
unwittingly helped you along by confusing c...
9. You don’t care about others
You have no empathy and believe that caring gets in
the way of reason and discipline. Leade...
10. Sorry, but you’re just not that bright
You change strategy with the wind and try to appease
everyone at the same time ...
Good leadership is often quite subtle and its
full impact may not be obvious or immediate.
Bad leadership has an immediate...
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Ten Reasons Why You SUCK as a Leader

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Bad leaders are so destructive of an organization and are unfortunately rather common. Here are a few common traits that I've observed in bad leaders. This list has resonated with many friends and former colleagues and I hope it helps others to recognize and perhaps "out" some bad leaders.

Published in: Business, Education

Ten Reasons Why You SUCK as a Leader

  1. 1. Ten Reasons Why You SUCK as a Leader We’ve all seen bad leaders who have reached positions of authority without having many (if any) real leadership skills. I’ve learned so much watching the effects of bad leadership and here are some of the common traits that I’ve observed. © Derek White 2013 derek@qedsimplicity.com
  2. 2. 1. Your confidence is not courage. People often confuse confidence with courage. You can fake confidence but not courage. Leaders are paid to make the difficult and sometimes unpopular decisions like killing projects, saying “No” when everyone expects “Yes”, letting someone popular go who is nice but ineffective, and taking well-reasoned risks, often with incomplete information and without someone else to blame. You’re not paid to appease people and make decisions based on what is least likely to make you look bad later. Walk the talk, stop the buck, have some spine! © Derek White 2013 derek@qedsimplicity.com
  3. 3. 2. You think humility is a sign of weakness You show confidence and bravado but lack any humility and consider humility a weakness. Good leaders are humble when required and know the power of humility in leading people. One of the greatest motivators is when someone you respect says “I don’t know, what do you think?” or “Can you help me?” It’s human nature that we want to help people, especially those we respect. If you want people to follow you, just show some humility and ask them, nicely. © Derek White 2013 derek@qedsimplicity.com
  4. 4. 3. You care what people think about you, not what they think about. Your self-consciousness is based on the insecurity of knowing that you’re in over your head. If you were genuinely confident and comfortable in your leadership role, you’d be less interested in what people think of you and very interested in what they think about-- their ideas, their concerns, what’s stopping them from doing their jobs better. To find this out you need to truly listen. © Derek White 2013 derek@qedsimplicity.com
  5. 5. 4. You talk more than you listen You learn nothing while you’re talking. You surround yourself with friends and people who don’t challenge you while those who do challenge you get ignored or even sidelined as “disloyal” or “not a team player.” Listen closest to those who disagree with you. They are far more valuable since you may learn something new or at least understand how they think and why and so be better able to lead them. Your followers need to feel valued and part of your team which requires that you genuinely listen to them. © Derek White 2013 derek@qedsimplicity.com
  6. 6. 5. Your inaction speaks louder than your lofty words You delegate everything except taking credit and you hire consultants to do your job so that you have someone else to blame. You always give the impression that you are too busy with more important things to get involved and you act like you are above the day-to-day problems everyone else has to deal with. Coaching, motivating and speeches are only small parts of the leadership job. “Doing” is the biggest part. What are you doing? What complex problems have you grappled with and solved? What difficult decisions have you made? Which sacred cow did you launch from the trebuchet today? © Derek White 2013 derek@qedsimplicity.com
  7. 7. 6. You lack integrity You may be able fool all of the people some of the time but that time will soon pass. People have memories and emails and they are talking about the uncomfortable truth you were trying to hide, just not to you. It’s so obvious that it sometimes gets taken for granted but you have to say what you mean, mean what you say and admit when you were wrong. You have no integrity if you cannot be accountable for your own failings. © Derek White 2013 derek@qedsimplicity.com
  8. 8. 7. Failure terrifies you. You act like you’re infallible. Have you never taken risks or just never taken the blame? Who has honestly done a lot, reached a senior position, and never failed? The truth is that bad leaders fail poorly, sweeping things under the carpet and hoping that nobody noticed. A real leader takes risks and is sometimes wrong, but they are the first to admit it (quickly), learn from it and move on. The fakes bury it, find someone else to blame or distract everyone with smoke and mirrors or a new strategy. © Derek White 2013 derek@qedsimplicity.com
  9. 9. 8. You so want to be a leader Your ego drove you to become a leader and we all unwittingly helped you along by confusing confidence with competence and humility with weakness. Once the wrong people get the leadership roles, it’s hard to get rid of them. Worse still, they usually surround themselves with similar people who put their personal agendas ahead of the shared common purpose. The catch 22 is that the best leaders often don’t really want to be leaders while the worst desperately do. One of the best leaders I have worked with confided that he wanted to leave his position because of the uncooperative jostling for power and influence among the executives and the emotional drain of being the only person who really cared about the many people under his leadership. © Derek White 2013 derek@qedsimplicity.com
  10. 10. 9. You don’t care about others You have no empathy and believe that caring gets in the way of reason and discipline. Leaders cannot gain the respect and loyalty they need to lead without genuinely caring about people. Management by fear never works and faking it is worse than not caring. Don’t confuse empathy with being “nice.” Leadership is not a popularity contest and people will ultimately respect you more for being firm and taking some necessary but unpopular decisions if you act with integrity and clearly empathise with people. © Derek White 2013 derek@qedsimplicity.com
  11. 11. 10. Sorry, but you’re just not that bright You change strategy with the wind and try to appease everyone at the same time because you’re out of your depth intellectually. At the first sign of trouble you change direction without fully understanding what happened. You gather your band of yeasayers and run off in a new direction before anyone starts asking embarrassing questions. One company president I know calls it “kiddie football.” You don’t have to be the smartest person in the team but you do need to be able to understand and prioritise large quantities of data with often complex, competing opinions and struggle with the whole range of business, people and technical problems that decisions often entail. © Derek White 2013 derek@qedsimplicity.com
  12. 12. Good leadership is often quite subtle and its full impact may not be obvious or immediate. Bad leadership has an immediate and obvious impact on an organisation but it is surprising how long it takes to change bad leaders. The mechanisms that push people up are often unwilling or unable to pull them down (or push them out.) © Derek White 2013 derek@qedsimplicity.com

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