7 Cures for Cruelty

“All cruelty springs from weakness.” Seneca

cruel leaders

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Cruel leaders believe they’re helping when they’re hurting.

Some of the most shocking, disappointing, and frustrating moments in leadership come when you begin to realize …

good intentions don’t compensate for lousy leadership.

Cruel leaders:

  1. Fear looking weak.
  2. Prolong uncertainty.
  3. Protect themselves.
  4. Tell the truth when they’re mad.
  5. Explore reluctantly and decide quickly.
  6. Think either/or.
  7. Use sarcasm to get their point across.
  8. Call monologue dialogue.
  9. Use fear to motivate.
  10. Don’t tell you what they really want.
  11. Prolong pain by not dealing with tough issues. Fake kindness is the beginning of cruelty.
  12. Lie to make people feel good. Dishonesty in the name of not hurting someone – hurts everyone.
  13. Minimize others; maximize themselves.
  14. Encourage game playing and office politics.
  15. Say, “It’s just business.”
  16. Don’t say, “Thank you.”
  17. Give feedback but don’t receive it.

7 cures for cruelty:

  1. Passion with calmness.
  2. Candor with compassion.
  3. Transparency with optimism.
  4. Explaining with curiosity.
  5. Progress with feedback.
  6. Strength with gentleness.
  7. Openness with decisiveness.

Circle the qualities, in the list above, that you excel at. The un-circled qualities are what cause unintentional suffering. You may be better at candor than compassion, for example. The result is cruelty.

The cure for leadership-cruelty is bringing contrasting qualities together at the same time.

Don’t balance these qualities. Bring them together. Think of having candor and compassion at the same time, for example.

Cruelty is the result of segregating noble qualities, skills, and behaviors.


The number one solution to leadership-cruelty is honest communication while seeking the best interests of others.

What do cruel leaders do?

What solutions to leadership-cruelty do you suggest?