The 10 Strategies of Obnoxious Leaders
Don’t expect the people you complain about to follow you. You aren’t worthy of leadership, if you can’t pull-with people.
The future is built on aspiration, not frustration.
Persistent frustration makes you obnoxious. Complaining points out deficiencies, inadequacies, and shortcomings, without offering solutions.
The 10 strategies of obnoxious leaders:
- Focus on the short-game. Judge projects and people only by recent performance. “You’re only as good as your last success,” is short-sighted bull crap.
- Minimize responsibility to others. Maximize their responsibility to you.
- Compete-with rather than pull-for.
- Begin with what’s wrong and what won’t work. Imagination asks, “How might this work?” Spend most of your time preventing things.
- View everything through your viewpoint.
- Don’t ask for input or feedback.
- Withhold gratitude. Ungratefulness is ugly.
- Tell people how to do their jobs.
- Act like you’re the center of the universe.
- Feel entitled. Make others earn respect, but believe you’re entitled to it.
Successful leaders pull-with and pull-for teammates. Pushing-against distracts energy, focus, and progress. You can’t push-against and pull-with at the same time.
Leadership is inspiring people to do things they love in ways that advance organizations.
Successful leaders pull-with:
Curiosity expresses interest in pulling-with.
Questions indicate leadership’s desire to pull-with teammates.
- What are you good at? How might that add value to our organization? Where might your talent fill a gap, meet a need, or build capacity?
- What do you enjoy doing? How might you view work through the lens of enjoyment?
- What skills do you hope to develop? What’s important about those skills? How might you add value by developing those skills?
First questions are a beginning. Embrace the power of second and third questions to establish connection, ignite insight, and produce results.
The people you pull-with end up pulling you.
Inspiration fuels energy. Motivation, in the traditional sense, is manipulation.
Which obnoxious behaviors most irritate you?
How might leaders express a “pull-with” approach?
What a great and very helpful use of the hyphen (pull-for, push-against, …)! It really helps the reader understand the message more quickly and better.
Must say I don’t understand #2, #5, #9, and #10. The things that obnoxious leaders do are routinely interrupt speakers and make everything a joke!!!
I have been very lucky that my last 3 bosses have been horrible supervisors and sadly, horrible people as well. I have learned so much from them on how to not lead. Many of those behaviors you have listed I know very well. I know if a person (supervisor or employee) is not secure in themselves or their skills at work they often behave this way. It is easy to see them I just wish they could see themselves. Insecure, paranoid, unethical, overconfident, manipulative, controlling. Yep my last 3 chiefs and I thanked them for teaching me how not to lead. By the way that did not go well.
I know this story oh-too-well! The silver lining is in how much we learn – I, too, learned some of my most valuable lessons working under people who had no idea how to lead. I have never run across any of them again and wonder, sometimes, if they ever grew into being better leaders or if they ever recognized how terribly they had behaved. I don’t suppose it would be appropriate for me to send them a Thank You card for teaching me so very much … hmmmm. 😉
The “pull with” and “pull for” concept is reminiscent to me of how we all need to be reminded we are captains of our own life’s ship. We need to know where we’re going and why, and we must also be capable to weather the fog and storms—as well as guide our ship often without even seeing where we’re going by map (intuition or innate ability) only. Also, we may have to make course changes.
What remains constant is this. It’s as impossible for a ship to come into a certain port without a compass as it is for a man or woman to make any headway on the sea of life without a purpose. No one ever “drifts” into anything desirable. To succeed at anything worthwhile we must know where our goal lies, and we must know the process for getting there.
If we really think about it, questions are about opening a conversation, a discussion. If we should visit a ship in port and ask any captain for their next port-of-call, they’ll tell us in a single sentence. Even though captains cannot see the port–the destination for the full 99% of the voyage– they know it’s there, how to get there, and barring an unforeseen and highly unlikely catastrophe, they will reach it. All they have to do is keep doing certain things each day.
Like any good and capable captain, we may not be able to control the storms in our life, but we can control our ship.
Dan this post reminded me our fellow writer Tom Wolfe who said that many investment bankers act like Masters on the Universe and he was correct. But it is not bankers and many other outside consultants that act like that, it is also many corporate leaders. Often this is due to an inflated ego based on some early success or often a deep seated lack of true belief in themselves or their judgements. Thanks, Brad
BOrrowing from Bob Sutton: your list of 10 are the acts of Team Axxholes. They make people feel worse about themselves and create negative emotions and complacency. And what good ever came from those 2 things.
Good piece Dan. I have not been commenting for quite some time on your posts. This one has provoked me so much that I cannot but offer my comments. We had this Leader ( if he may be called so) who possessed all the qualities mentioned in the beginning. He used to impose his views on us and never ever allowed us to speak anything. Over a period of time this had a devastating effect on the team which lost its ability to think and act. Realising the danger that this could lead to, people started to quit lest they are not accepted anywhere else. Needless to add , I also was one among them. I am told that subsequent to our leaving, many have left but this leader continues merrily with his ways.
Appreciate the insight. I think “obnoxious” is the wrong word, though. Maybe egotistical fits better.