It’s Scandalous! Leaders Who Don’t Lead | Taking Issue

Why does this happen?  Career-minded people knock themselves out to achieve positions of leadership. But when they get there, they don’t lead or just get it very wrong. That’s the scandal!

We expect our leaders to lead, not just sit in their offices waiting to be addressed as Your Leadness!

Leadership isn’t a crown.  

There’s a big allure about “position power.” Why? Because it comes with more money, a better parking spot, a private office, and more employees. This makes us feel important. It’s like getting a spa treatment for our egos!

Our employees want to see how we’ll use our “power.” They’re waiting for their leaders to do things that will inspire them to dig deeper, perform better, excite creativity, protect and benefit them.

We want leaders who respect us as followers not treat us like subjects!

Leading is real work!

Leadership is the actual job! With or without a swanky title, when other people look to you for direction, then your job is to lead.

Considering all that’s been written about leadership, simply speaking, here’s what it takes to be a good leader:

Define reality for your employees—Explain the good, the bad, and the ugly about what’s impacting them from inside and outside the organization. Don’t sugar coat and don’t create panic either. Build balanced, fact-based understanding.

Remove obstacles—Listen to what employees say about impediments to their performance. Clear away that debris. Deflect outside requests that will interfere with their work, especially knee-jerk ideas from upper management that can throw things off course.

Be there—Show up. Learn your employee’s names and something about each one. Ask for their ideas. Participate periodically in group and individual dialogue.   Let them know you’re their ally, working for them!

Communicate relentlessly—Talk to employees about the challenges you’re dealing with, issues you’re trying to balance, information you’re trying to get a handle on. When employees understand how decisions evolve, they’re better able to accept changes that affect them.

Make decisions—Take a position, intervene, and resolve things expeditiously. Don’t waiver and don’t delay. Be willing to change your decision when you’re wrong. Leaders need to keep the ball rolling.

Good leaders are a gift. Bad ones are an albatross. If it were easy to be good, every leader would be.

How do you stack up?

If you want to know if you’re a good leader, look around. Are employees following you because they want to or because they’re stuck with you?

Here are a few leaders who missed the mark:

The new CEO of an intensely mission-focused, non-profit reorganized, displacing a number of employees. He took off for a global business trip one week before the affected employees were notified, making him unavailable for any questions. It was clear he didn’t intend to “be there” for his employees.

The vice president of a financially strapped, non-profit had been fully involved in decision-making with her CEO to save the agency. The VP typically hid in her office, avoiding interaction with her employees. When she had to communicate the changes, instead of owning them, she blamed the decisions solely on the CEO.  It didn’t take long for the truth to come out.

The senior leadership of a major corporation routinely promoted “favorite sons and daughters” to lofty positions. When their leadership didn’t deliver expected results, they pointed the finger at their department managers, making them scapegoats. This is all it takes to crush a band of followers!

Leadership is a moral obligation. 

If no one is following, you aren’t leading. It’s as simple as that! If you’ve never read, Leadership Is An Art by Max DePree, now’s the time. 

Taking the lead is a business fitness smart move—a public one. When you lead, everyone sees what you do and who you are. Let your legacy as a leader be an exemplary one and not scandal. Go on…make yourself proud!

What’s been the worst example of scandalous leadership that you’ve experienced? What was the outcome? Thanks for sharing, as always!