Lousy Leadership Is Easy

Lousy leadership appears prevalent because it doesn’t take much effort to be a poor leader. Contrary to popular belief, there isn’t a huge barrier to entry for anyone who wants to become a leader; you just start leading. The difficulty arises for those committed to being a “good” leader. The ironic twist is, in reality, too many people put accountability in shackles and succumb to the mythology around leadership and feel compelled to heap praise, more power, fame, fortune, and reward upon those with situational ethics and a faulty moral compass who demonstrably lack character. It has become an addiction and a shameful affliction that persists despite the visual measures of awful leadership we witness daily.

  • Look for deep customer dissatisfaction, and you will find a weak leader.
  • Scratch the surface of high employee turnover numbers and the painfully low degree of employee engagement, and you will uncover careless leadership.
  • Corporate attorneys may disagree, but a string of settlements becomes a chain of clues that reveal the negligent management of problems.

Why do good companies become complicit and keep lousy leaders?

  • Ego. In an attempt to protect their ego, ineffective hiring managers will not confess a lapse in judgment. Instead, they will blame the process, deadlines, or quotas rather than admit to a poor hire decision.
  • Greed. Lousy leaders often have enough skills to appear to be a firm’s rainmaker. Money and positive cash flow are the oxygen of most companies, and no one wants to be the one to cut off any streams of income. And if the organization is on life support, it is extra challenging to call out the supposed hero for misdeeds. Besides, who will jeopardize the lifestyle they have become accustomed to living? This protective attribute of human nature often devolves into greed, which clouds many decisions.
  • Lack of Courage. People, imbued with a fair amount of cowardliness, do not want to engage in a confrontation. They convince themselves that the status quo isn’t that bad. The situation is tolerable; perhaps, if they wish hard enough, the problem will resolve itself. That’s rarely an effective strategy.

Maybe these companies are not as good as we would like to believe. That is the grimy tint of lousy leaders; they diminish everything they touch, including other leaders.

If you are a good leader but don’t use your talents and skills to minimize the damage or even unseat lousy leaders, your integrity and credibility falter. It takes a unified team to take down a lousy leader. It requires trustworthiness, a sense of stewardship, integrity to your values, and empathy for others; all attributes the lousy leader lacks and devalues.

All these conditions make minimizing the effects of poor leaders harder, but good leaders must not give up the fight. Terrible leaders destroy established cultures, reputable profits, and, most insidiously, the careers, livelihood, and lives of those they claim to help. If you agree lousy leadership is expensive, go on a cost-cutting mission.

You Make A Difference

You’ve got to become comfortable with dichotomy. What’s more important, breathing in or breathing out? You need both for the system to function. It’s the same with significance and insignificance.

To recently see the remarkable photos from space, of distant galaxies spanning eons, one can’t help but feel humble. The vastness of space is nearly incomprehensible, and it could leave you feeling small, insignificant, and your actions meaningless. Until you think about everything that had to go precisely right for any of this to be possible, and it all did go right.

Thousands of dedicated people across the planet of various backgrounds and disciplines collaborated to bring back images that forever change our view of the universe and our place. Simple humans, collectively working together to pursue the mission.

Be just as in awe of that as anything else you witness.

Every one of us makes a difference.

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Karl Bimshas

Karl Bimshas

Boston-bred and California-chilled Leadership Adviser | Writer | Podcast Host who helps busy professionals who want to manage better and lead well.