The Top Ten Toxic Behaviors of Lousy Leaders
“Most leaders don’t need to learn what to do. They need to learn what to stop.” Peter Drucker
Top Ten toxic Behaviors of Lousy Leaders:
#1. Neglecting relationships. A short conversation about someone’s family while getting coffee isn’t a waste of time. If you want great results, build strong relationships.
#2. Tolerating bad apples. Time makes bad apples rot. They don’t ripen with time. Your team is waiting for you to reassign, retrain, or remove people who don’t fit or don’t contribute.
#3. Avoiding tough conversations. Bad gets worse when you avoid it. Try saying, “I noticed…,” when the topic is uncomfortable. Describe it. Don’t judge it.
#4. Making feedback conversations personal. Don’t criticize someone’s character. Describe behavior and impact. “When you (behavior) the team (impact).”
#5. Spending too much time focused on problems. Fixing is a backward-facing activity. It’s necessary to fix problems, but the future is built by seizing opportunities.
#6. Never apologizing. “I was wrong,” builds more trust than self-justification or excuses.
#7. Failing to see the good side of bad qualities. The things that irritate you about others may reveal strengths. A slow decision-maker may be great with details.
#8. Hiding behind weaknesses and faults. “That’s just the way I am,” is a leader’s way of saying get used to me interrupting you, for example. The other sentence to listen for is, “I’m just not good at that.”
#9. Listening too little and talking too much. Listening saves time. Stop answering questions that aren’t being asked. Bloviating leaders suck the life out of teams. Jumping to conclusions diminishes others.
#10. Listening with a critical fault-finding attitude. Explore other people’s imperfect ideas. Most people don’t need to get their way. They just need to be heard.
- Hoarding good jobs and delegating crap assignments.
- Defining yourself by your successes and others by their failures.
- Believing success is transferable.
- Neglecting culture.
What’s on your top ten toxic behavior list?
8 Traits of Toxic Leadership to Avoid (Psychology Today)
The 20 Bad Habits (Goldsmith)
Unwilling to delegate
Holds Theory X assumptions
Takes credit for everything
All of your examples are right on, Dan. One of the areas that we often hear staff complain of
revolve around that very divisive area of “Favoritism”. This may include:
First of all: having favorites — obvious to all but denied by Leaders.
Isolating staff who have fallen out of favor.
Excluding staff from conversations, meetings, or functions that they should be involved in.
Socially snubbing by being gregarious with some staff in the room, and ignoring others.
This sets up a very negative Personal dynamic — that is extremely hard to recover from.
Thanks Mary Ellen. I know what it’s like to be the favorite and to not be the favorite. Being on the inside feels good. Being on the outside sucks. Make everyone feel as if they are on the inside.
My favorite management topic …
Effective Managers always emulate their leadership
(Goldsmith’s “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There”), and Good Leaders won’t tolerate it.
The key to changing dysfunctional / toxic environments is an ethical bent to progressively and aggressively correct the delta between
What is Said, and
What is Done.
If they don’t match, you’ve got dysfunction – bad management, which encourages bad behavior (usually the opposite of what is being said, as in “That’s just the way it is”).
If they do match, but different rules apply to different groups (the C-suite, say), you’ve got bad leadership (a toxic brew of “Go along to get along”).
Effective leaders simply don’t tolerate passive-aggressive behavior, much less passive-aggressive aggressive culture … they will point it out/expose it at their own level first (“That’s strike one, friend …”) and then remove it if not corrected (“That’s strike two, loser …”), and do it all very publicly (“There is no strike three, y’all”).
“I mean what I say, I say what I mean, and if there is something wrong with either of those, I expect you to show me what is so that we can correct it.”
And if you can’t get an affirming consensus from that, then you shouldn’t be pretending to lead. IMHO.
Thanks Rurbane. Powerful. Kouzes and Posner in The Leadership Challenge list “Model the Way” as the first of five functions of leadership. It’s so easy to read your advice and nod in approval. BUT it takes courage, wisdom, and integrity to make it happen.
Courage, no doubt being the highest trait, for w/o it the search for wisdom and the struggle for integrity end up being pragmatically moot.
Yes, well said.
I’d be mightily tempted to add something around using bluff, bluster and sometimes just plain arrogance, to make up for a weakness or for not knowing the answer.
Sometimes leadership requires vulnerability, and having the confidence to own that is huge.
Companion to this are those who create a crisis to be the ones to resolve it,
e.g. CDO’s brokers taking over the US treasury (circa 2009) because no one else could understand them and their systemic effect was “too big” to allow them “to fail,” as would have been prudent for a properly functioning market.
Thanks Steve. So true. One of my favorite topics of leadership is humility. I fear that leaders might scoff at vulnerability and humility, but any leader who’s been at it a while understands the choice between being vulnerable and bluffing.
This is very helpful. I will work on #1, #2, & #3.
Best wishes Patricia.
#9. Listening too little and talking too much………….. I do this, the talking too much part……I need to fix that
I hear you, Mark.
#X Screaming at your subordinates in public
#X1 Screaming at your subordinates in private
#X2 Announcing meetings at the last minute during lunch without letting people know how long the meeting will last so nobody can concentrate, all they can think is, “It’s 12:15. I’m starving. When do I get to eat?”
#X3 Replying to an email asking for a raise with a comparison to productivity vs salary and a snotty comment that perhaps salary should be lowered so the ratio is more in line with the industry standard
#X4 Asking people for feedback and then punishing them for being honest (Although I learned a valuable lesson with that one – always lie)
#X5 Telling someone the salary is $X before she interviews, then sending the offer letter for 0.8($X), then claiming that the initial salary – the $X – included benefits, including time off – that it was the entire compensation, not the salary, because OF COURSE THAT’S HOW EVERYONE TALKS ABOUT SALARY
Oh the radio.
So yeah — all that was one boss. Then, in the culture of fear he had created,this happened: http://diaryofagolddigger.blogspot.com/2014/03/in-which-i-have-altercation-with-co.html