People who study leadership theory learn about numerous styles of leadership: autocratic, democratic, strategic, transformational—on and on. It can be interesting to debate the pros and cons of each.
But whatever theory you subscribe to—or if you’re a self-taught leader who doesn’t believe in theories—there are some styles of leadership that are always detrimental. Here are a few of the worst:
Know-it-all leadership. People don’t admire leaders who pretend to know everything and insist that whatever they do is right. Leaders who think they’re smarter than everyone else create isolation and quickly come to be resented by their peers and the people on their team.
Absent leadership. Some leaders are physically absent—always away at a meeting or conference, wandering somewhere else in the building or working from home. Many more are physically present and may even pride themselves on being accessible because their office door is always open. But if they’re distracted and checked out, never really listening or pitching in, they might as well be somewhere else.
Inflexible leadership. A leader’s behavior is the single biggest factor they bring to bear on influencing others. Agile, creative leadership has the power to energize, engage and motivate people to go the extra mile for their organization. But a leader who’s inflexible and stubborn creates demotivation, poor performance, frequent absences, and high turnover.
Micromanaging leadership. Micromanagement has a devastating effect on even the best teams, destroying morale and productivity. Part of the problem is that most micromanagers aren’t even aware of what they’re doing. They’re often the ones saying “I don’t believe in micromanagement, but…”. Effective leadership means a commitment to focus on the big picture and on motivating employees, not standing over their shoulder.
Self-serving leadership. Ego can undermine leadership in two ways. The first is false pride, when you focus on self-promotion and making yourself look good even at the expense of your team or peers. The second is self-doubt or fear, when you lose confidence and question yourself and your abilities. They move in different directions, but they’re equally destructive.
Leadership by intimidation. Those who lead from fear are often terrified of looking weak, but in trying to look strong they fail themselves and their team. Instead of sharing a vision that motivates, they threaten and complain. Instead of analyzing problems and looking for solutions, they focus on placing blame. Talented team members find new options, leaving only mediocre performers who are lacking enough in confidence to allow themselves to be bullied on a daily basis.
At the end of the day, every leader has their own preferred style. The important thing is to be aware of what style you’re putting out there and to check in periodically to make sure it’s serving your team and yourself well.
Lead from within: It’s said that the best sign of a good leader is not how many followers they have, but how many leaders they create. If your leadership style is right, your influence will quickly spread.
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The Leadership Gap
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
This content was originally published here.