Over the course of the last two decades, I have been blessed to be around some phenomenal leaders and some very phony leaders. In an effort to avoid becoming a phony leader, I have kept a list of terrible leadership characteristics on my Evernote. Here are five ways I have learned that leaders can destroy their leadership equity and opportunity.
1. Only present perfection.
Far too often we are the star of every story we tell. And we only present to people what we want them to see … which is usually our best. The only problem with this is people never see our weaknesses and therefore often can’t truly relate to us. They know we aren’t perfect, but we act as though we are … and this does more damage than we think.
Leaders, especially those who teach, I have found that when we share our weaknesses wisely … our people lean in … and God gives us strength.
2. Never say thank you.
When we offer no thanks we assume that others know how grateful we are for them. But the opposite is actually true. I learned many years ago from pastor Andy Stanley that, “Unexpressed gratitude actually communicates ingratitude!”
The people we lead need a regular stream of encouragement and thanks.
3. Hoard the perks.
As key leaders in our organizations, we are receiving perks that other employees are not. Perks like …
– Tickets to concerts, movies, sports, plays or the orchestra
– Book allowances and free books
– Use of vacation location condos and homes
– Gift certificates for restaurants, coffee shops and clothing stores
Depending on the organization, tenure and temperament, there are almost always perks that flow to key leaders. By hoarding all these perks, we fail to share the blessings with those we do life with, and instead of building trust, we build walls and fuel jealousy.
4. Be unavailable.
There is a difference between being accessible and being available as we lead. As key leaders with busy schedules, we may not always be available when someone needs us. Our schedule simply will not always allow us to be available. But we can always be accessible to our people who need portions of our time if we pro-actively put place holders in our daily or weekly schedule.
A sure way to become a terrible leader is to remove ourselves from those we are leading.
5. Whisper a lot.
When leaders whisper, suspicion grows.
It is my opinion from experience that great leaders don’t whisper. They are not afraid to make comments in full voice, and if they do have confidential comments or criticism, they take that to a private place where they can again speak in full voice.
When leaders whisper in public or semi private places, people fill in the quiet space with negative, not positive, assumptions.
Part of becoming a great leader is learning how, when and where to critique and encourage.
As a general rule I would say …
– Critique in private.
– Encourage in public.
And don’t whisper.