This summer I attended The Global Leadership Summit in Chicago, a 2-day conference hosted by the Willow Creek Association, which offered 14 speakers (from authors, ministers, CEOs, to celebrities such as Tyler Perry) who spoke about their experience and lessons in leadership.
I took away many ideas from the conference and left feeling really inspired to make moves and be impactful in this world. One of the interesting ideas that attendees were reminded of during this “leadership” conference is that everyone isn’t exactly meant to be leader. One of the speakers noted that we often hear people tell youth (particularly in graduations), “Go be a leader.” He said we should STOP doing that because the truth is that everyone will not be a leader one day.
In thinking about the information given at this conference, as well as what I have experienced in my own life through volunteer organizations and at work, I developed a list of 5 reasons that some leaders SUCK. As I wrote this list and reflected on leaders that I have encountered, I realized that many of them probably would never be effective leaders because they are not willing to grow and develop.
Below I provide the reason some leaders suck, their challenge, and the skill and/or knowledge they refuse to learn or embrace.
Reason 1: Their thinking and behavior is incredibly outdated.
Their challenge: They are stuck in a bubble called the past, not willing to move forward with new ideas.
The skill / knowledge they need: In order to become or remain successful, a leader must always be thinking about what’s next. Just because your organization may be popular now, it doesn’t mean it will be popular forever. Leaders should be open to change and staying abreast of how their organization is moving into the future.
Reason 2: They believe they have all the answers.
Their challenge: They refuse to listen to their team or consider their ideas.
The skill / knowledge they need: Good leaders encourage their team to be involved and provide their perspective on issues. No one has all the answers. Thus, when a leader considers their team’s voice, they show that they trust them and value their opinion. It doesn’t mean a leader should follow everything their team says, it means that they should be smart enough to realize they personally don’t have all the best ideas.
Reason 3: The way they operate is unethical and shady.
Their challenge: They constantly make poor decisions that put their organization at risk for legal and PR crises.
The skill / knowledge they need: Leaders should realize that a bad reputation will follow you. If you are involved in unethical and shady practices, the people who work or volunteer in your organization are probably aware of it—which puts you at risk for them exposing you one day or telling someone who will.
While people will not always share the same values and principles, leaders should be smart enough to know when they are entering devious operations territory. When leaders operate like this, they forget that their downfall could also affect their team.
Reason 4: They become a leader for the wrong reason.
Their challenge: Perhaps their parent led the company or nonprofit before them or they wanted a fancy title with the power and fame that came with being a leader—regardless of the “wrong reason,” they never truly desired to lead an organization to make a difference or have a positive effect on the future of the organization.
The skill / knowledge they need: Leaders must be honest about if they are really capable or truly vested in leading an organization. When leaders sign on for the wrong reasons, it’s evident from the beginning, and it can lead to the destruction of an organization. Most leaders in these scenarios don’t leave a positive legacy.
Reason 5: They are irresponsible with people.
Their challenge: They don’t know how to speak to people. They don’t respect others. They don’t value their team or the people they serve.
The skill / knowledge they need: The reality is that leaders would be nowhere without their team. One of the most important things a leader can do is learn how to communicate with respect and concern. Of course leaders have to make tough decisions at times and everyone will not agree with them all the time, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t interact with people—particularly the people who are valuable team members—with thoughtfulness and compassion.
While you can’t change people, it doesn’t hurt to recognize why a leader is not great in their role. This awareness could help you interact with them differently.
Wishing you all the best, Business Rock Stars!
Do you agree that everyone wasn’t meant to be a leader? What would you add to the list of reasons some leaders suck? Tweet your ideas to @bestrategicPR or leave a comment below. #bestrategicPR