Prior to COVID, the way in which we worked has long taken a toll on many. We need to admit the problems, take stock and reimagine a future that works for everyone. This article discusses aspects of traditional leadership that need to go the way of the Dodo.
“Nothing should go back to normal. Normal wasn’t working. If we go back to the way things were, we will have lost the lesson. May we rise up and do better.” ~Anonymous Instagram Post
Leadership experts in academia and business have discussed and debated the various qualities of great leaders for decades. With an election here in the US only a few weeks away, the idea of strong and capable leadership is under a magnifying glass. There is perhaps no better time to take stock and contemplate what it takes to be a good leader.
The concept of the alpha-male business leader who’s extremely confident, extremely aggressive and a mediocre listener has been around for a depressingly long time. Yet not one leadership professional I have read has promoted the idea of fear as a way to motivate, engage and retain people. Sadly, there are many examples of this type of leadership in both business and politics where fear, threats and intimidation are the primary tools to extract compliance. Most every case study I have seen shows how disrespectful treatment leads to decreased creativity and innovation, the stalwarts of today’s competitive economy.
While there are many aspects of good leadership that I’ve covered over the years, the following list is the first time I’ve compiled key components of poor leadership:
- Refusal to accept criticism – accepting criticism is essential to cultivating trust and respect. Not accepting critical feedback engenders fear and apprehension and puts a screeching halt to any feelings of loyalty. Who wants to work for someone who doesn’t want to hear their ideas?
- Refusal to assess errors and change course when presented with new information – this is truly the death knell of innovative thinking. It is from mistakes that critical learning is gleaned and many transformative and disruptive products and services arise.
- Refusal to accept responsibility – to not accept responsibility is to lay blame at other’s feet. While the perpetrator may feel momentarily vindicated, those that are unfairly blamed will soon march out the door. And who can blame them?
- Little compassion or consideration for one’s team – taking care of your people is one of the most important things a leader can do. Corporate culture is everything today. People who feel poorly treated and undervalued are much more likely to seek employment elsewhere.
- No empathy – a pattern of not displaying, or caring, for other’s challenges or obstacles can create deep seated feelings of resentment. No one wants to work for a person who displays insensitivity or no desire to learn of the obstacles that may be in the way of them achieving their KPI’s. No one wants to feel like a cog in thankless, heartless system.
The bottom line is that people like to feel a sense of unity and belonging at their place of work. They do best when they feel respected, heard and valued. In the best places to work, I’ve met few people that don’t want to contribute and give their best. However, when leadership is deemed as cold and uncaring, people and results suffer.
It really is time to throw out the old model of leadership. Our world, the planet and it’s people will be the better for it.
If you’re wondering how you might be viewed as a leader, or how to up your game, give us a shout. The future of you and your team’s success may rely on it.