Poor Leadership is Offensive

We made the point last month that good leadership is a choice. It follows, then, that poor leadership can be a choice, too. I don’t think of bad leadership as “unfortunate” or “just a fact of life.” I think it’s offensive. Is that too strong of a word??

Why does it bother me that much? Well, consider how much time you spend at work. A large percentage of your life is spent working, often for someone else, and if you have to spend so much time working under someone who is not very good at what they are doing, it can have a very negative impact on your whole life. Not only is there a potential emotional impact, but it also affects your economic well-being; poor leadership can result in your company not doing so well, or in you not getting the development and feedback you need to advance and do more. Leaders have a significant impact on their employees’ overall well being, and if they are bad at what they do, it can have a pretty sweeping effect.

Leaders also tend to make more money. They get paid to take on extra responsibility and exercise more authority than the rest of the workforce. If they don’t do their jobs, or they do them poorly, then they are making more money than others for no good reason. If someone is getting paid more than you, they should earn it. You definitely should not feel that you need to cover the responsibilities they are getting paid to cover. Simple enough, no?

So yeah, leadership is important, but if it is done poorly, is that reason enough to get offended? Well, consider WHY it is often done poorly. There are people in leadership positions who:

– did not really want to lead in the first place, but wanted the higher paycheck or recognition

– do not care if they do a good job or not

– know they are doing a poor job but do not want to admit a problem or take steps to fix it

– think only their perspective matters, as opposed to the perspective of those whom they lead

– simply enjoy having power over others

Frankly, I think these are reason enough to get offended. It’s about attitude. It’s about making conscious choices to either not care, or to abuse authority.

Are there people who are really trying but just cannot lead well? Sure. But I give credit to those people if they try to improve, or if they admit this is not for them and move on to something else or, in general, just try to overcome their problems. Those who have problems but don’t care enough to do better…well, yeah, they offend me.

As you move into a leadership role, think about what your employees, as well as the leaders above you, are expecting of you, and ask yourself if you are prepared to do it. If not, then it is best for everyone if you go do something else.

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