Learn from the good and learn from the bad

- Francis J. Kong - The Philippine Star

Learn from the good and learn from the bad.

This is what I constantly say in my leadership seminars. Take our bosses for example. Good bosses are everywhere and unfortunately, bad bosses are everywhere as well.

You know as well as I do that some bosses behave more like jerks than inspiring leaders. Instead of inspiring their subordinates, they make life difficult for those who have no choice but to follow them.

Unfortunately, this kind of leadership can cause serious problems; I have known sufferers of strokes or heart attacks as a result of high stress levels following such leaders. But then, there are those who benefit greatly from working under inspiring leaders who help them tap into their hidden potential, and excel in their skills.

Leadership skills are not always taught in the way it should be. There are many teachings and seminars on theoretical leadership. They show matrixes, quadrants, and draw up frameworks for leadership. The students or seminar participants leave the room carrying with them tons of valuable theoretical principles but find them hard to relate to actual happenings in the work place.

While many books and articles offer useful information in the subject of leadership skills, most of these ideas are really taught experientially. New managers or emerging leaders, for better or worse, often mimic what their former managers did when they were under their charge.

If you are a regular reader of this column then you know that I would usually present practical ideas on the right things to do to be an effective leader. But this time, why not do something different?

Why don’t we learn from the bad bosses? Why don’t we consider the opportunity of avoiding the mistakes of those who have come before?

Here are some leadership behaviors inspired by uninspiring bosses. Such bosses that I, too, personally experienced.

1. Blame game bosses

These are leaders who would never admit their mistakes and instead, blame others. They also try to grab credit and earn personal points at the expense of others. When crunch time comes, they save their skins first.

2. Overly controlling bosses

My friend and author Krish Dhanam calls these bosses helicopter bosses. They hover over their people; micro-managing and creating impossible rules to follow. This type of behavior de-motivates and hampers the creativity of their subordinates. And also, they create a culture wherein the pettiest of decisions have to be cleared and decided by them.

These bosses would say:

a. “I don’t know what would happen if I am not around...”

b. “Everybody depends on me to do the work and I am so stressed...”

3. Flavor of the month bosses

This is simply known as ‘favoritism.’ Funnily, the silent whisper in the work place is: “I wonder who will be the boss’s flavor of the month this time?”

One subtype of this is the type of bosses who deem who is bad and who is good. Sometimes, they carry twisted standards; they punish the good and reward the bad.

And at times, some subordinates with strong personalities overpower the bosses and as compensation, the bosses pick on the good and less outspoken subordinates.

4. Dishonest / Inconsistent bosses

There are bosses who say one thing but do the opposite. This will not just frustrate their staff but will also make them question their competence. They want their staff to come in early but are often late themselves. They want transparency from their people yet they do unethical things in secret.

“Do as I say...” Integrity is obviously invisible in this particular kind of boss.

And as a result, they unknowingly create a very unhealthy culture in the organization; everybody is just play-acting, there’s no sincerity in words or actions.

The words “play-acting” derive its meaning from a Greek word ‘hypokrisis’ meaning ‘Hypocrisy.’

Good leaders should always set positive tones in the work place. And here is the key: Leaders can afford to commit mistakes, but they cannot afford to be unclear.

Leadership is stewardship of influence.

Leadership itself is blessed with the opportunity to reproduce good leaders, and this wonderful responsibility should be taken seriously. Because after all, our people will forget what we have accomplished for ourselves, but they will never forget what we have done for them.

(Spend two inspiring days with Francis Kong learning leadership and life skills as he presents Level Up Leadership on June 24-25 at the EDSA Shangri-La Hotel. For further inquiries contact Inspire at 09158055910 or call 632-6310912 details.)















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