How Not To Lead

I have chosen to take a very tongue-in-cheek approach to a topic that is very important to me. We generally look for “how to” lists of best practices and principles by which we can operate. Sometimes taking a contrarian view makes what we should do or aspire to be even clearer and more powerful. As you review this list you will probably be reminded of people you have worked, or are working for, and what their negative behaviors or action have caused in lives of their employees.

Support the opinions of those in power.

Play it safe and don’t have an original idea. Stick with the pack and run with the herd. Remember if nobody moves, nobody gets hurt.

 Don’t praise or acknowledge your top performers.

Keep all the credit for yourself if possible. You won’t need the goodwill and support of your peers when you mess up. It’s worth noting that you won’t get their support either as they will let you sit in your own juices and marinate.

Destroy new initiatives and fresh thinking.

There are no good ideas except those that come from you. If it wasn’t your idea and it doesn’t align with your perspective, undermine and destroy it. When it fails you can say “I knew it wouldn’t work” and show everyone how smart you are.

Sit on the fence.

Don’t commit to anything unless there is extensive, time consuming research and meetings to support it. You can call it your ready, aim, aim, aim, aim…strategy and never have to pull the trigger to do anything. If you sit on the fence post long enough you’ll get numb to the pain and everything will feel normal.

Let your fear and anxiety stand in the way of progress.

If you’re uncomfortable with change, assume everyone else is too. You can tell yourself you’re actually doing them a favor by blocking progress.

Give generous raises when people threaten to leave.

This motivates employees to go for job interviews and check out the competition. If they stay, they can teach their colleagues how to get raises without improving performance and by threatening to leave. This is a great way to build morale and team spirit too.

Don’t buy into all that people stuff and talk about corporate values.

Employees don’t really want to work for a company that emphasizes employee engagement, respect and strives to live out their values. Most of these initiatives are started by HR and those “people” types that don’t really understand how to run a profitable business.

Hire more people like you.

Make sure that your staff mirror your thoughts and never challenge your ideas. Life is so much easier when we all agree. Besides, you’re a big fish in a small pond and why move into a new pool and have to compete for the food.

Stay in your job even if you don’t like it.

It’s more fun to complain and have conversations about how bad everything is rather than find a new job. Who knows, you could even start a disgruntled employee group that meets after work and spends their own time and energy complaining about everything and everyone rather than move on and improve your life. As the saying goes “misery loves company”.

Keep your top producers even if their actions don’t align with your corporate values.

Provide privilege and preferences to those that bring in the big bucks regardless of how they do it. Let them mock and ridicule those that actually believe in all that values stuff so they will leave and join a company that commits to working in a principled and ethical manner. 

Hopefully you weren’t too smug reading this. If you realize you are guilty of some of these actions, consider this a wakeup call to improve your leadership approach. We have all worked for poor leaders. Let’s commit to not being one of them.

“My basic principle is that you don’t make decisions because they are easy; you don’t make decisions because they are cheap; you don’t make them because they’re popular; you make them because they’re right.”

Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C. – Former president, University of Notre Dame

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.