Opinion: Bad leadership is a formula for disaster, but it’s never too late to up your game
The general perception is that strong leaders are innovative, opportunistic, brilliant and motivating. However, great leaders are more driven by soft skills with which subordinates can truly identify.
Are you likable? Do you have integrity? Are you honest? Over the course of nearly 28 years running a company, I have come across three key leadership personas that I refer to as the good, the bad and the ugly. Here are their attributes:
Confident: Great leadership is derived from a can-do attitude. Subordinates thrive on positive energy and want a leader who keeps a cool head. As Warren Buffett said, “The most important thing to do if you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging.”
Transparent: Team members want the information they need to be successful. When leaders are transparent, the team feels empowered, engaged and prepared to face any hurdle. When left in the dark, they feel unprepared when facing adversity.
Mature: Leaders look at the big picture and don’t get embroiled in pettiness. Being moody makes it uncomfortable for subordinates, who walk on eggshells because they’re not sure which boss they will encounter. Confident leaders maintain an even keel and instill the same stability in employees.
Empowering: There is no blueprint for business success. Decision-making can’t be so regimented that a team is unable to adapt. Empowering employees to think on their feet puts them in position to solve problems, make decisions and learn to become leaders.
Team-oriented: Winning is a team sport. Good leadership encourages employees to think and act like a team. In doing so, everyone feels like they have contributed to success.
Empathetic: Good leaders recognize the importance of empathy in managing employees with varying skill levels and personalities. Some leaders worry that empathy is viewed as weakness, but it actually makes leaders more relatable and causes employees to believe that leadership truly cares about them.
Controlling: Some micromanaging leaders make all the decisions—a formula for disaster. Good leaders empower teams with responsibility and authority to make decisions.
Egotistic: Simply being in the corner office does not mean a leader is right. Teams reporting to such a leader might withhold opinions, worried that disagreements will make them look foolish. Humility allows leaders to build stronger relationships within
Demoralizing: If a leader wants the team to arrive early and stay late, but doesn’t demonstrate the same commitment, it will be hard to set that as an expectation. Employees want to go to battle every day for leaders who are all-in and equally committed to the goals and aspirations of the organization.
Indecisive: Leaders who struggle with decisions risk running a company into the ground. Nobody wants to make a bad decision, but a belabored one—or no decision at all—can have the same result. Employees want to believe in a leader’s ability to make decisions, particularly when times are tough and difficult choices must be made.
Reticent: Many leaders are reluctant to share information, which leaves teams in the dark. If leaders don’t maintain clear and transparent communications, employees will make up their own narrative and question everything the company does.
Arrogant: Arrogance is offputting to subordinates and clients. Arrogant leaders are typically insecure about their own abilities. The antidote: Be open to other opinions, ask for feedback and empower colleagues to make decisions.
Dishonest: When a work environment contains dishonesty, particularly from the top, it will fail in efforts to create a positive corporate culture and will risk paying the ultimate price: failure.
Disrespectful: Strong leaders build teams that are brimming with confidence and can-do attitudes. This will never happen in organizations where leaders don’t convey appreciation for the team surrounding them or the individuals who make up the team. Discounting people will ensure high turnover, poor culture and difficulty in recruiting good people who want to work for you.
Hostile: Nobody likes a leader who yells; it creates a culture of insecurity and discomfort.
Leadership is a learned trait. Leaders must absorb good working habits from others and learn from mistakes. Most importantly, every leader should have a desire to get better. No matter how good they are, they can always up their game.