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Rotten Leadership: Learning from Awful Leaders

March 30, 2020 2:03pm

Adapted from the webinar “Rotten Leadership” by Samuel P. O’Donnell, D.Min

From your very first job flipping burgers and sweeping floors, to your dream office job with a view. You’ve likely experienced your share of horrible bosses over the years. While there is really no way to avoid having one, you can choose to learn from the mistakes of the bad leaders you’ve had and avoid becoming one yourself. Here are a few types of awful leaders and what you can do to escape their same fate.

Type 1: The Seagull

Simply put – this is the leader who flies in, dumps a load of things on you, and then flies off. We’ve all been in a position where we have been working away at our job and had our supervisor approach us, assign more work, then run off with little or no specifics.

The key to not becoming this type of leader is involvement. When you delegate something, walk your subordinate through it – especially if it’s something they may not have a lot of experience in or involves a skill they have not mastered. Take the time to be sure they understand the task and your expectations before excusing yourself.

Type 2: The Lazy Leader

This is the type of leader who will do anything to avoid work. You’ve probably had the pleasure of working for someone like this before – the type that disappears right as a new project is beginning or more work needs to be done. These leaders don’t get a lot of love from others in the workplace and it doesn’t take others long at all to notice their laziness.

How do you avoid this? Lead by example. Roll up your sleeves and do the work! Don’t tell someone to do something that you aren’t willing to do yourself. A counter to lazy leadership is industrious leadership – even if that means you set your position or title aside in order to do the work.

Type 3: The Absentee Leaders

These are the leaders who never seem to be around. You look around and you cannot find them – no matter what time of day. No one can go to them to ask for directives, suggestions, or help. They are simply never there.

So much of leadership is presence. Be around and available for your people. The higher up your position, the more visible you need to be. People appreciate that and they notice when the leader isn’t around. And if you want people to make the right decisions and the right calls, they need to see you.

Type 4: Liar, Liar Leaders

This is the leader who cannot be trusted. Their word isn’t worth much. And it doesn’t take people long to identify a dishonest person.

Be better than this. Be ethical. Tell the truth – even when it’s difficult. Will you be able to be transparent on everything? Of course not. But when you can, be honest with those who work with you and for you. When you are truthful with your staff, they will be more likely to be truthful with you. Trust is huge – and so is morale. An honest leader can cultivate both for a stronger, healthier organization.

Type 4: The Glory Hog

This is the leader who is right there in the limelight any time there is credit to be had! They take credit for hard work, great ideas, and company improvements – even if they deserve little of it. Not only is this dishonest, it creates a toxic working environment. And people will be a lot less likely to share their ideas and input since they know they will likely not receive the credit.

Avoid this simply by not doing it. Invite input and ideas from everyone involved. And when it’s time for someone to be recognized for their work, be sure it’s the right person who receives the credit. Much of the time people just want to feel appreciated and valued. When they do, they are willing to work harder – and with a better attitude.

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