Failures in Leadership

I don’t think it’s necessary to define yourself as having a certain leadership style.

I think it’s more important to realize who you don’t want to be and then work within that much bigger space. Why pigeon your hole into such a small space when the area you are working in is so big.

If you are looking for styles of Leadership to avoid, start with these.

The Bulldozer

As the name implies, the Bulldozer clears everything in its path, irrespective of who or what is there. It doesn’t care, it mows down everything, leaving destruction in its wake. It’s “their way or the highway” and if there isn’t a highway around, it’s time to make something.

While creating a new highway, charting new ground and leading a team into something new is sometimes needed. There is a fine line between leading a new endeavor and pushing everyone on your team to do it your way, no input required with the consequences largely ignored. The impact of having a Bulldozer style leadership strategy is that your team will stop coming to you with suggestions and ideas, stop providing feedback and eventually leave because they have no opportunity for growth and development.

You need to push through when it makes sense, but not for every problem.

The Slingshot

If you’re an all-consumed leader who has a lot on the go, the Slingshot is an easy trap to fall into. You’re responsible for a number of projects, you’re being pulled in six different directions and you’re trying to be the best leader across all those teams and initiatives that you are responsible for.

So you drop in and out of projects — but when you come back to them — you come back like a slingshot, “disrupting” the status quo, demanding change, trying to kickstart the project in a new direction, assigning yourself a myriad of tasks that will go nowhere.

A Slingshot Leadership style emerges when this becomes the norm, you go away, come back, disrupt, go away, come back, disrupt but with no results, no value ever generated. As a result, your team begins to learn your cycle of leadership and waits for the next round of changes to come before doing their work OR they don’t even attempt to accomplish their work because they know it will change.

Leadership is a set of consistent steps that lead to a final result.

The Town Cryer

As it sounds, the Town Cryer lets everyone know what they are doing. They send out the latest and greatest status reports, promote themselves at meetings, let everyone know the sacrifices they are making for the project to be a success. Perhaps they highlight the team in some of these missives, but generally, they don’t, it’s about them, what they are doing and how they should be respected as a result.

That last line is key, the Town Cryer demands respect to be shown for their efforts and does not care whether it needs to be earned or not, it is required.

The fault in the Town Cryer is that the spotlight is on them and when something goes wrong in their leadership, others get the blame because it’s not their fault and they will make sure everyone knows (as the Town Cryer) that this is the case.

When you’re a Leader, the only status report that needs to be filed is the one that shows you are delivering your project, let the project speak for itself. And if a report or meeting to walk through current tasks is needed, rotate it through your team. They are part of the project and should share in part of the tasks in understanding what goes on to make it a success.

The After-Hour Emailer

Lastly, if there is one style you want to avoid it’s the After-Hour Emailer. We all know that everyone works weird hours — families, different projects, different customers — the list goes on so sometimes you do work in the evening, sometimes your presence icon is green 100% of the time. Most Leaders do the work and sign off, but not the After-Hour Emailer.

The After-Hour Emailer needs to let everyone know that they worked late this week, that they put the time in on the weekend, that did something out of their normal work schedule so everyone can see that they are doing something and so that others can validate their efforts, perhaps be compared to.

When a Leader is doing a great job, they don’t need to tell people what they are doing and when they are doing it. They do it and move onto the next task.

I’m there are more styles of Leadership that are destructive to the growth and development of any team, these are the ones that I consistently run into when working with people.

If you’re looking to develop a style of your own or figure out what style you are, I’d highly recommend who you don’t want to be. The picture and what you need to do to get there will be that much clearer.