Why Leaders Suck | 5 Signs You're not a Leader (Yet!)

How many of you have had a boss or manager that you just could not stand now matter how hard you tried? Maybe this person knew they were incompetent and their insecurity made you feel uneasy in your position within the company. Perhaps you had one who thought they knew it all and were not a very good team player because their ego got in the way. There are lots of MANAGERS out there but, unfortunately, not enough LEADERS.

The first phase in identifying the issue, is identifying there is indeed an issue. You see, many people think the issue starts with the person- don't get me wrong, that's a close second. But first, its the misunderstanding of what leadership is.

We are under this false assumption that being a Leader is a title, a position. Well, it's not. If you're lucky, the person in charge will be a leader; but if they're not, they're just the person in charge.

but here's the thing...

People don't follow positions.

People don't respect them

People obey them

People respect leaders.

Therefore, people follow leaders

Do you do what's asked of you because you respect the person and follow them willingly, even happily? If so, sounds like this person is a leader. If you simply show up and do what you have to because you're told to or there will be consequences if you don't, you don't consider the person in charge much of a leader (and you're not alone).

In an article published by the Harvard Business Review by Thomas Chamorro-Premuzic, over 50% of employees leave their job because of their managers. Ever heard the saying, "People don't quit jobs, they quit managers"? In fact Research indicates that 30%–60% of leaders act destructively, with an estimated cost of $1–$2.7 million for each failed senior manager. That's a lot of loss because of one person's inability to lead.

We have talked a lot about being the person who is "following". However, what if I am talking to you, the supposed "leader". How do you know you are a leader and not a manager? I want you to think to yourself right now what signs indicate that you are indeed a leader and not a "manager".

5 Signs You're Not a Leader (Yet!)

1) You tell people you're a leader

You see, most good leaders are humble. They are not consumed by their position as a leader, nor are they defined by it. They usually rely on the evidence or product of their leadership. They may also be reassured by what they're told from others who respect them, the success of those who follow them and overall morale. Those are the tools in which they use to measure their ability to lead. They also do not reiterate their position as a leader continually, because they are confident in that role and are humbled by it.

You can spot a manager by how often they tell you. How often they reiterate their success or position to you and how their way is THE way. They demand respect rather than earning it. They talk a lot about their position, rank, title, etc and not enough about their people or team. They use terms like "I' instead of "we" when talking about accomplishments. People follow them (if at all) because they feel compelled to for fear of the reprisal if they don't. When this happens, there is minimal productivity. more conflict and poor morale.

2). You're Surrounded by Conflict

If you feel there is a lot of conflict within your team, reevaluate your "role" and whether you are "managing" rather than the "leading". There is a difference between Problems and Conflicts. You see problems are outside circumstances that act as roadblocks to success and productivity. Conflict is when WE are the roadblock to success and productivity. When we allow our emotions to get the best of us. We are already at odds with the odds of success; there is no need to be at odds within your team. A good leader is also able to manage conflict within the team as well as between themselves and other team members. Managers say "listen to me!", while leaders say "Let's listen to each other". When you think your word is scripture, you discount everything else others bring to the table. People attract conflict by their attitude. If you have an attitude that is self righteous, close-minded, easily offended, weak/uncertain, arrogant, etc. you will find yourself at the center of conflict, not just in your professional life, but from all over. A leader diffuses conflict, they do not ignore it or stir it up.

3). You are either Arrogant or a Victim

There is a difference between arrogance and confidence. Arrogance is thinking you're above everybody else. Confidence is know know one else is above you. You do not allow yourself to feel inferior to others because you are solid in the foundation of knowing your worth. However, if you think you are above others, you feel entitled to their following and their respect. You do not feel their respect has to be earned but by sheer position, they owe it to you. This could not be further from the truth, especially if you want a team that is productive, efficient and accomplished.

Managers demand following. But here's the truth: no one has to follow you. In fact, no one is following YOU, they're following the consequences if they don't. However, People follow leaders not because they have to, but because they want to.

On the flip-side of this leaders do not play the victim. They own their mistakes, do not place place blame and take responsibility for short-comings and failures. They do not wallow or dwell in self pity and make it about them. Remember, they are not concerned with what people think about them-- they are confident in who they are. They are however, sensitive to the fact that their actions may have impacted others, so they make it right and commit to doing better. Those who call themselves leaders, but dwell in self pity and expect others to apologize or make things right, are in fact not leaders. That is a person who has no accountability, takes no responsibility and thus has no dependability. If your team cannot depend on you, you are not a leader. If you do not show up consistently, you allow emotions to dominate your approach, and let circumstances define your performance, your team cannot depend on you and the overall performance will suffer.

4). You Have a Hard Time Producing Results

Productivity is another sign of leadership. Effective leaders get things done and check items off the list. A manager simply add more things to the list in hopes of accomplishing something. Notice how I did not give a measure for productivity. "One thing done well is better than nothing done to completion". I cannot stress enough how big of a role consistency plays. Consistency = Dependability. When people know what to expect from you, they know what to expect out of themselves and therefore, preform better and more efficiently. Leaders know how to manage their time and help others do the same. They are clear in their goal and help others in achieving it. This lends itself to all other signs we have talked about thus far. People who can depend on their leaders and are happy within their leadership are more effective-it's really that simple. If you are not consistent, you cannot expect your team to be. If you are not producing results, don't expect your team to. If you are not leading by example, do not expect them to follow.

I want to add a caveat to this: Productivity is relative. Productivity means the "effectiveness of input is relative to the rate of output". Simply put; what you put in is what you get out. Therefore, productivity isn'/t always reflected in volume, sales, numbers and tangible things that go in files. Sometimes its training, learning, preparation and planning, etc. Did you set a task, make a plan and achieve it--productivity.

5). They Lack Skills in Emotional Intelligence

As we have learned so far, managers have poor skills in emotional intelligence. One way to identify poor emotional intelligence is "absolutes". They are all or nothing people. It's "always" or "never", "All" or "none", "did" or "didn't", "succeed" or "fail", people. They do not have many, if any, grey areas. They are on one end of the spectrum at all times and they change rapidly (lacking predictability and dependability right?). They're "hot and cold", "in and out", you're sensing a theme right? A leader has a good sense of true north and doesn't vary much from that. They are usually all-in with moments for re-centering and recharging. Leaders do not have drastic emotional responses, do not make rash decisions, respond harshly, or give in swiftly. Leaders are not easily influenced by those around them which is why they are able to stay so even-keeled; they simply adjust their sails and continue on. They do not flip-flop in their beliefs, goals or efforts because of what's happening around them. They are steady and solid.

On the other-side of this, they can also be immovable and stubborn. This goes hand-in-hand with arrogance. These people are stuck in a mindset and lack flexible thinking. They are easily offended or hurt and often react on emotion. These types of "leaders" are not open and receptive to ideas that differ from theirs and almost take offense when people want to try things differently. This is a sign of insecurity (which is where arrogance is deeply rooted). Because of this, they are also very accusatory to others around them, especially if they are perceived to have failed in their efforts. These "leaders" then use it as an opportunity to instruct them and place blame.

A true leader looks at "failure" as an opportunity to help the person learn (this is different than instructing). Learning is an opportunity to identify the problem and brainstorm possible solutions as well as creating a plan in seeing this solution through. They are problem solvers.

Likewise, an insecure leader who is perceived to have failed will place blame rather than taking responsibility. They will make excuses and rationales for why they didn't achieve their goal and how it was everyone and everything else's fault but theirs. They spend time describing the problem instead of looking inward to identity and solve it.

Now that we have discussed why leaders suck and some reasons why that is; have you had a chance to reflect on any of these signs? Do you possess any? If so, what is your game plan for how to work on them? Like we said in the beginning, identifying there is a problem, is the first phase.

Keep an eye out for more on this series in Leadership.

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