Dear Dan: I Feel Burn-Out Because Administration Promotes Unqualified People

Dear Dan,

First, I really enjoy your leadership tweets.

Second, I’m currently at a job, where the administration seems to be promoting ‘yes men’ and not qualified people to supervisors. Not leaders.

This has caused me to become somewhat burnt out in a career that I love. That being said, as a person striving to grow as a leader, how does one follow someone who is not a leader, when following is required?

I’ve struggled to wrap my mind around this. Thought I’d reach out and hopefully get your thoughts.


Frustrated and Burnt Out

Image of a bright yellow box surrounded by dark boxes.

If you are a positive person in a lousy environment, you are a person worth following.

Dear Frustrated,

Thank you for the good word. It feels good to contribute through the work of our hands.

You are wise to strive for growth as a leader. Self-development multiplies contribution. Think of it as unselfish selfishness.

You may be in a perfect place to grow.

In a disappointing world, it’s easy to justify self-defeating behaviors. We reason, if ‘they’ are going to be idiots, I’ll do a lousy job to spite them.

Only a fool justifies self-defeating behaviors. (We all play the fool from time to time.)

Personal development is essential to fulfilling your purpose in the world. Richard Lieder summarizes our purpose in two words, GROW and GIVE.

A person who neglects their own development can’t fulfill their purpose in this world.

Growth opportunities:

Lousy leaders present growth opportunities. What skills and character traits are important in your environment?

#1. Diplomacy.

If weak leaders wear you out, I suspect you’re good at speaking your mind. If that’s true, learning how to influence without antagonizing will expand your ability to contribute.

Develop the skill of presenting alternatives tactfully and creatively.

Learn to stand your ground with kindness.

#2. Positivity.

You’re probably tired of trying to see the good side. Redouble your efforts. Negativity doesn’t serve you.

Perhaps you feel passed over. Practice gratitude, even if you don’t feel grateful. Emotion follows action. Conduct produces feelings.

If you are a positive person in a lousy environment, you are a person worth following.

#3. Creativity.

I bet you don’t mind rocking the boat. No one likes a boat-rocker when the goal is going with the flow.

Explore creative ways to make improvements. It will take patience for you to do this. Patience will serve you well as you develop your leadership.

#4. Influence.

“Leadership is influence.” John Maxwell

When we’re frustrated, we’d like to kick people in the pants. There is a place in leadership for getting in people’s faces, but successful influence requires more tact than force.

Define your role as influencer, not controller.

#5. Energy management.

You’re never at your best when you feel burned-out. Frustration drains your energy. Don’t rely on others to fuel your energy.

Explore ways to fuel your own energy and let go of frustration.

Successful leaders learn to monitor, manage, and fuel their own energy. It’s an essential skill if you hope to flourish.

Burn-out is no laughing matter.

#6. Character.

Don’t let the people around you determine the quality of your work. I believe you feel burned out because you love doing remarkable work. You wouldn’t feel burned out if you didn’t.

Do a phenomenal job because you’re a remarkable person.

Final word:

Keep your eye peeled for opportunities outside your organization. Remember to run toward, not away. Don’t focus on running away from your current situation. Instead, figure out the best environment for you and pursue it with gusto.

You earn opportunities by doing a great job where you are.

I write these words with respect for you and appreciation for the challenge you face. I believe you are a person who rises to meet challenges.

You have my best,


What potential opportunities might Frustrated and Burned Out explore?

What potential dangers does Frustrated and Burned-Out face?

Note: I relax my 300-word limit for ‘Dear Dan’ posts.