The Three Best Ways to Fail as a Leader (Part 3 – Leadership)

Now that I’ve posted 10 ways that you can be a better leader, I’m going to change gears a little bit. This time I’m going to give you some behaviors to avoid and how to avoid them. A lot of these things are really easy to fall into, but if you keep up with them, they can be avoided.

So, now I’m going to tell you how to can become the worst leader possible, and in some cases (if you’re the boss) how you can make the worst leader possible.

1. Make sure that you think of yourself as completely different than, and if at all possible, better than your employees – I’ve seen this a number of times and it’s really disturbing to see. One job that I was at had a number of family members working in upper echelons of the company. This group of family members really started to think of themselves as though they were of a different class than their employees. After telling all of the employees that the company was losing so much money they couldn’t afford to give anyone pay increases, each of the executives showed up with brand new, very expensive cars. It didn’t take long for the employees to start performing worse, and theft of company property to increase. So, make sure that if you want to ruin things, start thinking of yourself as different and better than the people who work for you.

2. Have different rules for you and your employees – One thing that can happen (especially in industrial settings) is that your employees might be paid as hourly employees and you could be a salaried employee. If you really want to make sure that you can get your employees to rebel, if they’re scheduled to show up at 7 AM, be late a couple of times a week. You can also ocassionally take a late lunch every week. Employees don’t make the distinction between salary and hourly, so consequently, when you do this, you’ll insure that they feel like you believe point number 1, even if you don’t. Generally, I’ve found that employees will accept hard adherence to rules, as long as you’re just as rigorous yourself. But, if you try to enforce rules that you don’t follow yourself, then you’re going to get a lot of pushback.

3. Promote the wrong people for the wrong reasons – This can really take two forms. If you’re promoting someone into a leadership position, don’t think of it like it’s a form of reward. Too often, people who perform well in a line position are offered promotion into leadership without regard for what’s needed to be a good leader. When you do this, you could be setting a star employee up for failure. If you’re going to promote someone to a leadership position, make sure that they’re really management material. If they need help, make sure to train them to be a leader. Don’t just dump someone into management who’s never been a leader. The second form that this can take is with a supervisor who doesn’t want to lose a star performer. Change is never easy, but if if you won’t let someone advance, who really wants to because you don’t want to lose their productivity, you’re going to set yourself up for failure. Eventually, the employees who can’t get promoted will stop performing and those who see that the way to advancement is mediocrity will either perform at that level, or they’ll just move on to another company.

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