4 Signs of a Weak Leader

lion-in-waitingWe have all heard the old adage, “actions speak louder than words.” Unfortunately, for many, image speaks louder than  meaningful action as well.  Especially, when it comes to leadership.  A recent article in Inc magazine explains how to identify the weak leader hiding in plain sight.

According to Les Keown of Inc Magazine, “The problem comes when a weak leader masquerades as a strong leader. Outwardly, they appear effective, dependable, on top of things. But look closely at what they believe to be strong leadership and what you see is in fact a set of dangerous, destructive behaviors. Behaviors which will eventually strangle the organization.

Four Most Common Behaviors of an Ineffective Leader

1. They know everything. The weaker the leader, the more they know.  Apparently seemingly like they have no use for others. Talking with truly effective leaders is just the opposite. They involve others when discussing their business. They build strong teams and are proud to depend upon them.

2. They’re always busy. Yes, running a business (or a division, department, project, group or team) is time consuming–sometimes to the point of exhaustion.  If you have no time to think then you’re not truly leading. If you’re not taking time to set the strategic compass of your organization, who do you think is?

3. Their default perception of others is negative. When truly effective leaders talk, one thing becomes noticeable. When discussing others, whether their employees, vendors or customers, the conversation typically trends toward the positive. Strong leaders look for success in others. They focus on what has been done well, and seek to build on that success.

4. They have only two modes of interaction. Weak leaders (who think they’re strong) interact with direct reports in one of two ways: either they’re in charge, or they’re not there. If they’re in the room, they’re in charge.  Truly effective leaders have another string to their bow, a third way of interacting with their team–to be a resource for them.”

Read the complete article by Les Keown here.

Linkedin Discussion:  Strong Views on Leadership

My original posting generated some lively conversation on Linkedin within The Executive Club discussion group.  Some of the most insightful responses are those from Mark Brunson:

Mark Brunson“I think there are two types of Leaders. One, surrounds himself with people who admire them and consistently support and follow his every whim. In this case, this leader is always “big” and his team are seen as smaller than him/her. The second leader surrounds himself with people more skilled than they are in their area of expertise/responsibly, people who have strong opinions and are not afraid to share them. The are valued and become “big” and the leader harnesses their combined strength to build a GREAT Team. This is sort of like the Russian Stackable dolls. In one case the leader see themselves as the biggest and everyone’s role is to follow them. The second leader surrounds themselves with people bigger then themselves and accomplish great things. You choose the type of Leader you want to be.”


Categories: Professional Development

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7 replies

  1. Whatever categories we assign them, whatever characteristics they possess – bombastic or chelonian, gregarious or enigmatic, large or small – “Weak Leaders” altogether fail in a single effort: they are not prepared to be followed.

    • Hi Rick.

      Thanks for your eloquent and thoughtful response. Being unprepared for followers is a critical weakness in a leader. In my experience, they often withdraw into themselves and away from their followers when difficult times are upon them.

  2. Usually the second type of leader, the “great leader” gets ousted from the company by the people he recruited, who quickly show more skill then he does. Much rather be the first type of leader, you will have a longer career. Only HR consultants and MBA teachers will praise the “great leader”. In reality, only the “weak” leaders manage their ways in big companies. I myself chose to be a weak leader and recruit people much weaker than me, and it has worked perfectly to climb up the company ladder. One day the company will fail, but I will have earned a lot of money and seniority which will lead other companies to want to recruit me. If you want to join a small company, it is another story, you might have to try to be a great leader…

    • Hi Clea,

      Perhaps you are thinking of functional or technical skills. The great leader is great because of their leadership skills. I beleive they generally choose those especially talents in fucntional/technical areas with sufficient leadership talent and even greater potential.


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