7 Leader-Leeches Who Drain Everyone
Leeches have suckers at both ends.
Britannica says there are 650 species of leeches.
#1. Busy leader-leeches
- Always in a hurry. (Related to the dreaded squirrel-leech.)
- Complete low-priority items and delay what really matters.
- Favorite expression: “Let’s get these small things out of the way.” (Sometimes a useful approach, but not when it’s avoidance.)
- Often feel under-appreciated.
#2. Urgency leader-leeches
- Everything’s a crisis. (Cousin to the Drama Leech.)
- Can’t see the big picture.
- Need you to drop everything to solve their ‘emergency’.
- Need a crisis to make them feel important.
#3. Helpful leader-leeches
- Sulk when you reject their help.
- Improve the work of others. Nothing is good enough for helpful leeches.
- Think they’re adding value, but they’re in the way.
- End up taking over.
#4. Decision leader-leeches
- Rethink every decision after it’s made.
- Need 100% certainty before moving forward.
- Favorite question: “Will it work?”
- Prefer the devil they know over the devil they don’t know.
#5. Attention leader-leeches
- Can’t perform daily ‘mundane’ responsibilities.
- Resent it when someone receives praise and they don’t.
- Talk too long and say too little.
- Interrupt when others are talking.
#6. Permission leader-leeches
- Seek constant affirmation. (Closely related to Time Leeches.)
- Can’t move forward unless someone else is responsible for failure.
- Wait for instructions and complain when they aren’t told what to do.
- Favorite expressions: “I was waiting for …,” Or, “They didn’t get back to me.”
#7. Energy leader-leeches
- Always do what’s best for themselves.
- Get excited about their projects, but can’t support others.
- Need constant encouragement, but don’t encourage others.
- Backstab people who feel threatening to them.
Solving the leech-leader problem:
Compromise with a leech always ends the same.
- Prepare for a leechectomy.
- Give direct in-the-moment feedback. Leeches have low self-awareness.
- Explore how they might improve. Design specific behaviors, not theories.
- Tell them what you need from them, if #3 doesn’t work.
- Establish short deadlines for improvement. (Essential)
What strategies might solve a leader-leech problem?
How many types of leader-leeches have you seen?
Looking over the years the “leech leaders” that I have seen always seem to have low self esteem. I would add they also always seem to have low self confidence, are impatient to a fault and just seem out of place with their role. They make up for those shortcomings by showing actions as noted above.
This would be a wonderful self-reflection activity for leaders in training – in my world Administrative Degree seekers – and for those already in leadership that are seeking to improve their effectiveness. Taking a hard look at our own leadership styles – including those leech behaviors we might have – and how they impact the people we work with and/or the results would be enlightening if we act on what we learn. All of us have a leech moment from time to time even if it’s not our typical practice, and as someone else noted in the comments, it often has to do with protecting our self-esteem. PS – love the squirrel and drama leech descriptions 🙂
Pretend it’s the scene from ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’, point at the leech and say “LEECH!” … and then have them fired.
Good list. I see some people I know and I see myself in a couple of these. Got work to do!
Interesting and relevant post, which make me wonder…how did these leeches make it into Leadership roles prior to having a leechectomy??? Just another vibrant example of how career progression within and across industries still struggles with training, developing and transparently evaluating their people prior to promoting them. From the Leechectomy steps provided, it appears those being led must develop the leader…then who develops them???
Great thought-provoking post.