6 Horrendous Leadership Types
Have you ever had a really bad boss? One of those bosses who is so bad he can turn a dream job into a nightmare? Don’t worry, you’re not alone!
Bad leadership can destroy a team, division, organization. This is ironic, since leaders are supposed to improve all those things!
Here are six leadership types that you may encounter someday. Or have already encountered. Or -gasp!- encounter everyday (you poor, poor person…). Please do your best to never become one of these yourself! (Feel free to subtlety pass this post along to any leaders you think need to read it…)
Um, ok... explain that to me again...using smaller words this time...
What can I say? Sometimes you end up working for an idiot.
Why does this happen? Who knows. Usually it happens when a person gets promoted purely on the basis of seniority. Sometimes it can be because of favoritism, cronyism, nepotism, or some other “ism.” Quite often the Dullard’s dullness doesn’t manifest when he is a follower, but only when he becomes a leader. i.e. he can follow orders, he just can’t give ’em…
There are few things in the world as frustrating as working for an idiot.
I’m not talking about IQ here, or even job specific knowledge. I’m talking about a person’s common sense; their ability to think logically and rationally. This is where the Dullard falls short.
You know the type: this is the person who just can’t seem to connect point A to point B. You give him a perfectly cogent argument about something, and he a) gives you a blank stare, b) blows you off with some form of mumbling, or c) comes back at you with an argument that makes less sense than Snooki teaching Calculus (yes, that’s another Jersey Shore reference for you).
It’s like trying to explain to a four year old why the lowest, not the highest, score wins in mini-golf. He doesn’t get it, stares at you, argues for a while, and then eventually goes happily on his way, assuming you are wrong and he is the winner.
A good leadership principle is to surround yourself with smart and talented people and then listen to what they say. The Dullard defaults into the first part, but sadly is too dumb to apply the second.
How to not be the Dullard:
- Umm…be smarter…?
- If many different people on your team are repeatedly getting frustrated in their discussion with you, then there is a good chance that you’re missing something.
- Do you always override other people’s ideas with your “better, smarter” ones? Nobody is always right or wrong. Either you’re a Dullard or your people are.
- Umm…oh yeah, be smarter…
No personal calls at work? Oh, that only applies to the plebians, not to me!
The Hypocrite is the ultimate “do as I say, not as I do,” leader. She tells you not to eat at your desk, but she sets up a veritable snack bar at hers. She says, “no personal calls,” but you constantly hear her the chitter-chatter of mindless phone babble emanating from her office. She berates you if you are five minutes late but has no qualms being “fashionably late” whenever the heck she wants.
I am not referring to situations where different people should have different rules. Sometimes that makes sense. No, I am referring to the Hypocrite who simply applies the rules to her employees but feels she is entitled to ignore them because she’s the boss.
That’s just dumb.
If you want your employees to resent you, hate you, and eventually leave you (or go over your head and complain), then sure, be the Hypocrite. But if you care at all about being a good leader then start leading by example, not decree.
How to not be the Hypocrite:
- Don’t have two sets of rules, one for you, one for your team.
- If you do, and it’s for a good reason (not, “I’m the boss”), is your team aware of it? If not, make sure they know.
- Before you enforce a rule, ask yourself, “do I break this rule myself?” If so, either don’t enforce it or start following it.
Just keep ignoring and hope it goes away
Leaders make decisions. They don’t always make the right decisions, but they always decide (and when they do make the wrong decision, they admit it, fix it, and move on).
The Avoider hates making decisions. He is very afraid of making the wrong choice, and he also doesn’t want to upset or anger anyone. He’s loves to be loved, but hates to…you know…do his job…
So instead of deciding he puts it off. Then he solicits everyone’s opinion. Then he puts it off some more. Then he tries to pass the buck. Then he ends up going with the decision that will least piss off the loudest and angriest person.
Thinking things over and soliciting ideas is a good thing. Trying to make people happy is a good thing. But as a leader, you will sometimes have to make decisions that make some people happy while upsetting others. Excellent leaders do their best, make a decision, and use good communication to keep the unhappy people happy (or as less angry as possible).
What’s mind boggling is how the Avoider, in his attempt to avoid some immediate discomfort, drags things out, puts off decisions, and ends up making it worse for everyone involved (including himself). If you ever have an arrow stuck in your body, don’t ask the Avoider to pull it out; he’ll take forever, don’t painfully slowly, and probably give up halfway through. Ugh.
How to not be the Avoider:
- Think of the bandage metaphor: Don’t slowly peel it back, rip the damn thing off!
- Be honest with yourself: Why are you really putting off the decision? Do you need more info or input, or are you just putting off an uncomfortable task?
- Make a strong decision! You can usually fix it later.
The Micromanager wants to be the Puppet Master - pulling the strings and controlling everyone
Can you feel that heavy breathing on the side of your neck as you try to get some work done? Don’t look now, but it appears that you have a Micromanager looking over your shoulder…
The Micromanager is the Horrendous Leader we are probably the most familiar with. This is the person who not only tells you what needs to be done, but she also tells you how to do it, when to do it, where to do it, who to do it with, what kind of paper to do it on, what you should be wearing while you do it, what snack you should eat as you do it, when to take your bathroom break, and precisely how many squares of toilet paper you should use.
Great leaders give clear tasks and guidelines and let their employee or team go to work. They are there for help and guidance and they set milestones and check on progress, but beyond that they give their people the freedom to do their work. Micromanagers don’t realize that a) there’s more than one way to skin a cat, b) their way may not be the best way, and c) the best way to boost morale and help their people grow is to give them some autonomy and room for creativity.
Nope, the Micromanager is more concerned with how a thing is done than how well it was done. Do stellar work with great results using the wrong form? She’ll focus on the form. That is what makes the Micromanager a horrendous leader.
How to not be the Micromanager:
- Focus on what the results you want your people to produce, not on the method you want them to use
- Pay attention to when you start dictating “hows”
- Stop earlier than usual when explaining a task you are assigning. Ask, “you got that?” or “any questions?” or “are you good to get started?” If they need more info (and are not afraid of you’ll) they’ll let you know. Otherwise, let them go work!
If ignorance is bliss the Amnesiac is on Cloud 9
Holy cow, do I hate the Amnesiac! The Amnesiac is the leader who seems to forget everything that has been done or said, even if he is the one who did or said it!
He will flip-flop positions without explaining why; one day he will be for an idea, and the next he will be against it. You hand him a proposal today and he rejects it, only to accept the same proposal a few days later from someone else (and won’t acknowledge that it’s the same as yours).
The Amnesiac is hard to work for because he is so unpredictable. It would be like working for that guy from Memento. But he at least had the decency to tattoo himself to keep track of things.
I have never been able to understand what makes the Amnesiac tick. How can a person be like that and not somehow accidentally impale themselves on something? It makes no sense. But the Amnesiac leaders are out there, and they are demoralizing the world’s workforce.
How to not be the Amnesiac:
This is a tough one, because, like I said, I don’t really know what makes the Amnesiac tick. But here are a few ideas:
- Write stuff down! Meeting notes, decisions, your ideas, other people’s ideas, etc.
- Review and reflect. Take a little time to review those notes to jog your memory for what’s going on and what good ideas you may have missed.
- Take a little time to think. Unlike the Avoider, the Amnesiac likes to make snap decisions. Since he makes them in the moment, he quickly forgets what they were. By taking a little time before deciding, the Amnesiac will hopefully be aware of the things he is saying.
Imagine having this guy as your boss...
The Dictator is the power monger. She equates leadership with power, and power with control. She sees her employees as minions sent to do her bidding. Picture the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, and you’ll get the idea.
The Dictator is a classic, “do it my way because I say so!” person. Rather than engaging in discussion, the Dictator likes to issue orders. She knows best, right? Besides, it’s just easier and faster for her to tell people what to do rather than waste time nurturing and growing her employees. Brilliant.
The Dictator also likes to use threats:
- “Do it or your fired.”
- “If this is too hard for you we can find someone else who can handle it.”
- “Good night Wesley, I’ll most likely kill you in the morning*“
(*Yes, the Dread Pirate Roberts** was most likely a Dictator type of leader)
(**The Dread Pirate Roberts is from the movie “The Princess Bride***.”)
(***If you haven’t seen The Princess Bride, you should. It is one of the funniest movies ever.)
Underlying most Dictators is a deep insecurity. They see any question to their decisions or methodology as challenges. They view any act that goes against what they explicitly said as insubordination. They fear that their people will turn against them at the first sign of weakness, so they overcompensate by throwing their weight around.
Once in a while every leader needs to lay down the law. However, smart leaders know that, “I’m the boss so we do it my way,” is the last card they play. For the Dictator, it’s the only card in her deck.
How to not be the Dictator:
- Use threats and commands as a last resort. If you are doing them everyday, you are doing something wrong.
- Be honest with yourself: If you get annoyed when someone questions you, ask yourself why that is. You might be able to learn some important things about yourself that help you be a better leader.
- Shift your thinking from, “my people are my minions and it is their responsibility to do what I say,” to “my people are my team and it is my responsibility to help them be the best they can be.
There are probably many more horrendous leaders out there than these six. If you can think of more, please leave them in the comments. Maybe that will lead to a “6 Horrendous Leadership Types Part 2″ Post!
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By Avish Parashar. As the world's only Motivational Improviser, Avish uses techniques from the world of improv comedy to engage, entertain, and educate audiences on ideas around change, creativity, and motivation.
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