Bad leaders have no willing followers. Employees perform based on duty, the need to stay out of their boss’s bad books and the need for a pay cheque. Employees will follow the instructions of management if the employee has no viable career alternatives. Commitments such as rent, mortgage or car payments force people to keep working. As soon as a similar or better opportunity presents itself – they’re gone.

Some leaders have superior technical capabilities and intellect – that’s how they got the job, but too often they lack the “human touch” and ability to build trusting relationships.

I know of a Vice President that comes to work, doesn’t greet anyone, makes no eye contact, unlocks his office door, enters, closes the door and works while being protected from his staff by the opaque film on the glass wall to ensure no eye contact is made. Imagine who willingly follows him – no one!

Here are a few examples of what NOT to do if you are a leader of people:

  • Don’t be a “Yap and Flap” a.k.a. Seagull Leader. These leaders swoop in, make a lot of noise and create disruption, dump all over everyone and fly off. Motivational value = zero. Anxiety and stress – 100%.
  • Don’t make executive decisions based solely on the numbers and financial metrics to “right-size” or balance “human assets” to meet financial goals. This short-term approach may meet shareholder expectations but cuts out the talent essential to keep the organization advancing and a positive work environment.
  • The “do as I do” leader. This may work in crisis situations when compliance is essential to deal with a challenge. Over the long-term this approach creates robots that may mirror the leader’s approach but does nothing to foster creativity and innovation.

It’s less about what you say and all about what you do!