Monday, November 22, 2010

Leadership: What Not to Do

By Steven Hourston

We've all worked with terrible leaders. But nearly all leadership development focuses on what great leaders do. Forget that. We learn much more from the truly awful leaders. Those who are so selfish, incompetent, arrogant, two-faced and heroically bad.

They teach us how not to develop and motivate individuals or teams. Their lessons are memorable and the experience of working with them often scars people for life. All that needs to be done is to NOT lead by their example. Remember what they did and vow never to repeat their mistakes with your team. You'll become a much better leader and your career will flourish.

Look out for these warning signs.

Lose your enthusiasm, drop your passion, have a charisma bypass and become an energy sucking black hole draining the life from your team.

Catch people getting it wrong and humiliate them. Find their weaknesses. Ignore their strengths, it's their weaknesses that give you control. Never miss a chance to undermine their confidence.

Lose your values, they get in the way. Integrity is over-rated, as is straight-talking. But spin and insincerity are excellent skills.

Keep the people who make you look good. Steal their best ideas and present them as your own. Never share the credit. Astonish your team by promoting the least able, self-seeking yes person - it worked for you.

Divide and rule. Stamp on ideas and teamwork. You want control. Keep people in the dark, the less they know the better. Knowledge is power. Use it to your advantage.

Stick to the middle lane, accidents happen in the fast and slow lanes. Become proactive with your hindsight. Be wise after the event. Find your scapegoats. You must always have someone else to blame.

Appear to welcome change, but make sure it doesn't work. Maintain the status quo. You never know where new ideas will lead.

Heroic fire-fighting makes you look good. Your boss will think you've saved the day again. Forget the wood it's the trees that count.

Practice the dark arts of office politics. Undermine the talented and praise the incompetent, they make you look good.

Become a World class creep, ingratiating yourself with your boss is a wonderful skill. Bosses are lonely and a yes-man often makes them feel good.

You'll have your own examples. Add them to this list.