4 Signs of a Weak Leader Part 2 – The Debate

Linkedin Discussion Participants Offer Strong Views on Leadership

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My original posting on the 4 signs of weak leadership generated some lively conversation on Linkedin within The Executive Club discussion group.  Here are some of the most insightful responses thus far:

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.”

Evan Roth Evan Roth • Thanks for sharing, Sherry. I agree with the four points and might add “more concerned about appearance than substance”. Great leaders do the right things and add value when no one else is looking.
Sherry Clayton Sherry Clayton • What a lively conversation! Even though many saw Steve Jobs as a tyrant, I believe he was honest. He essentially said, I am the visionary, this is my vision, make it happen! And in that process, he did develop some big leaders (whether they chose to stay with Apple after he left is another matter).I don’t beleive Jobs ever claimed to be a great leader, doer or collabortor. In a 2012 Inc.com article (“4 Leadership Lessons from Steve Jobs”), the author says “Jobs surrounded himself with what he called “A” players. He believed in them, and then willed them to super human feats of product development and programming. There are many examples of this in Jobs’ life. Those around him called it his reality distortion field.”Jobs believed anything was possible because he did not rely only on himself to make things happen. He believed in others.
Luis Lobo Luis Lobo • It is my observation that some leaders gain position leadership meaning they received the title due to a promotion since they showed some skill in a particular area however this type of leadership lacks inspiration and vision. The best leaders I worked for have been those that have inspired me and allowed me to reach my full potential. They tend to be unselfish and willing to share their knowledge. It is never about winning the debate with them but instead about having the best idea to help the organization. Bad leaders on the other hand don’t know how to inspire others for action even when they are trying to be honest about a situation.We all know that leadership is a complex subject however you know when an individual has a talent to create value while others couldn’t. Bad leaders see leadership as a place to reach rather than a place to empower others to reach for themselves.
Joel McGinley Joel McGinley • A good leader can have one, even two of the attributes listed in the article. Too complicated of a subject to wrap into just 4 attributes. However, the one about not always being busy is strange to me. A good captain of an aircraft carrier makes it look easy. Why, because he/she has the right people in place to accomplish incredibly complicated projects. They seem to have an air of calm due to their experience. Why, because they thought ahead, put the right people in the boat and understand that the unexpected is not really unexpected. Rather than frantically buried in a massive pile of paperwork on their desk, constantly running from one thing to the next, appearing panicked and void of opinion. This just presents the impression of being out of control and ultimately conveys to his team, “all is not well and you should think twice before you trust me”. When growing a business, or operating a large team, you are either in the balcony or on the dance floor.
Dennis Talluto Dennis Talluto • Leaders may operate from experience and intuition, but true leaders govern from principle.To paraphrase and synthesize from multiple comments above – the reason Steve Jobs was such an effective leader is he was visionary (being able imagine beyond the obvious or expected), he could “bend” the heat and light and perception around him his staff and company – to mold an image from his dreams. Most importantly – it was his sheer WILL – the drive to succeed at whatever could be imagined! Once the strategy and course were plotted – it was his force of will to succeed! True leaders are not conformed to world around them, but rather seek to transform the world from “the way it is” to “the way it should be”!
Tom Basiliere Tom Basiliere • Great conversation. I’ll add that great leaders know when to take control and when to cede control. I think there are times for each and both help build a team.
Carol Enman Carol Enman • There are a few wonderful articles that are circulating around right now on leaders versus managers and leadership in general. http://www.centerforleaderdevelopment.com/blog/?p=857 and http://www.forbes.com/sites/amyanderson/2013/01/14/good-leaders-are-invaluable-to-a-company-bad-leaders-will-destroy-it/?goback=%2Egde_3217695_member_214231464
I think the hard part is to determine what’s a leader and what’s a manager and where they both fit into an organization.
 Kenneth Gross Kenneth Gross • Kenneth Gross • I think the article concentrates too much on an arms-length impression of a leader. The article implies that you know what a leader is thinking from observation – can I presume a bit of mind-reading is involved there? Always busy? The author of this article sounds like a narcissistic jerk to me, and is too fixated on the way she thinks leaders should behave.

I think that actually very few leaders are strong leaders, although I have yet to meet a leader who does not believe he/she is strong. I also think it is difficult to evaluate a leader while he/she is leading due to the information gap. I can think of a number of strong leaders who were viciously ridiculed during their tenure and admired years later, and vice versa.

I think one sign of a strong leader may be moral transparency and honesty in the face of strong criticism – something that is sorely lacking in this age of marketing.

Also, I think that strong leadership results from the right person at the right time in the right context. So strong leadership involves more than just the person alone.

I think we recognize strong leadership mostly in retrospect after it has happened by it’s results, then we convince ourselves we knew it was good all along. Any leader’s tenure has both good and bad aspects because even the strongest leader has strengths and weaknesses. People observing the leadership in progress may concentrate on strengths or weaknesses, and so give a biased impression of the process.

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.

Kenneth Gross Kenneth Gross • @Mark B.
So you think the Steve Jobs was a bad leader because he appeared bigger than his associates? And you probably think Bill Gates was a poor leader also? What about Mark Zuckerberg? Actually I’m not sure where Mark fits in your continuum.

Yes, these leaders all had flaws. They were successful nevertheless.

Mark Brunson Mark Brunson • There are exceptions, but I think strong leaders surround themselves with strong people. That was something even Steve Jobs did as he demanded excellence. Jack Welch did the same.

Kenneth Gross Kenneth Gross • @Mark B.
If Steve Jobs surrounded himself with such strong people, why did the company begin to fail when he left? Why is it failing now after he’s dead? I would say Bill Gates did a better job of that, wouldn’t you (judging from the advantage of hindsight)?

 Katherine Dondon • Thank you Sherry for this very concise article. It’s funny to observe that the more people are busy the less they are efficient. It’s even worse when it applies to a so-called leader!

Evan Roth Evan Roth • Thanks for sharing, Sherry. I agree with the four points and might add “more concerned about appearance than substance”. Great leaders do the right things and add value when no one else is looking.

Mark Brunson Mark Brunson • Kenneth – Steve was a truly visionary leader, which was stronger than his management skills. He demanded the best and would not settle for less. He aggressively challenged those who worked for him, no demanded, that they do things they did not think could be done. Instead of focusing on the few leaders like Steve Jobs, look around at businesses today, what types of leaders are successful. What type of leader are you? What kind of people would you surround yourself with? I base my thesis with people in companies I’ve observed. Feel free to disagree, that is the kind of people I enjoyed working with.

Sherry Clayton • What a lively conversation! Even though many saw Steve Jobs as a tyrant, I believe he was honest. He essentially said, I am the visionary, this is my vision, make it happen! And in that process, he did develop some big leaders (whether they chose to stay with Apple after he left is another matter).

I don’t beleive Jobs ever claimed to be a great leader, doer or collabortor. In a 2012 Inc.com article (“4 Leadership Lessons from Steve Jobs”), the author says “Jobs surrounded himself with what he called “A” players. He believed in them, and then willed them to super human feats of product development and programming. There are many examples of this in Jobs’ life. Those around him called it his reality distortion field.”

Jobs believed anything was possible because he did not rely only on himself to make things happen. He believed in others.

Luis Lobo Luis Lobo • It is my observation that some leaders gain position leadership meaning they received the title due to a promotion since they showed some skill in a particular area however this type of leadership lacks inspiration and vision. The best leaders I worked for have been those that have inspired me and allowed me to reach my full potential. They tend to be unselfish and willing to share their knowledge. It is never about winning the debate with them but instead about having the best idea to help the organization. Bad leaders on the other hand don’t know how to inspire others for action even when they are trying to be honest about a situation.

We all know that leadership is a complex subject however you know when an individual has a talent to create value while others couldn’t. Bad leaders see leadership as a place to reach rather than a place to empower others to reach for themselves.

Joel McGinley Joel McGinley • A good leader can have one, even two of the attributes listed in the article. Too complicated of a subject to wrap into just 4 attributes. However, the one about not always being busy is strange to me. A good captain of an aircraft carrier makes it look easy. Why, because he/she has the right people in place to accomplish incredibly complicated projects. They seem to have an air of calm due to their experience. Why, because they thought ahead, put the right people in the boat and understand that the unexpected is not really unexpected. Rather than frantically buried in a massive pile of paperwork on their desk, constantly running from one thing to the next, appearing panicked and void of opinion. This just presents the impression of being out of control and ultimately conveys to his team, “all is not well and you should think twice before you trust me”. When growing a business, or operating a large team, you are either in the balcony or on the dance floor.

Dennis Talluto Dennis Talluto • Leaders may operate from experience and intuition, but true leaders govern from principle.

To paraphrase and synthesize from multiple comments above – the reason Steve Jobs was such an effective leader is he was visionary (being able imagine beyond the obvious or expected), he could “bend” the heat and light and perception around him his staff and company – to mold an image from his dreams. Most importantly – it was his sheer WILL – the drive to succeed at whatever could be imagined! Once the strategy and course were plotted – it was his force of will to succeed! True leaders are not conformed to world around them, but rather seek to transform the world from “the way it is” to “the way it should be”!

Tom Basiliere Tom Basiliere • Great conversation. I’ll add that great leaders know when to take control and when to cede control. I think there are times for each and both help build a team.

Carol Enman Carol Enman • There are a few wonderful articles that are circulating around right now on leaders versus managers and leadership in general. http://www.centerforleaderdevelopment.com/blog/?p=857 and http://www.forbes.com/sites/amyanderson/2013/01/14/good-leaders-are-invaluable-to-a-company-bad-leaders-will-destroy-it/?goback=%2Egde_3217695_member_214231464
I think the hard part is to determine what’s a leader and what’s a manager and where they both fit into an organization.

 Janet Ai • Is the strength of a leadership defined as his/her ability to achieve the ultimate goal of the group/organization he/she is leading? If so, how well the group achieves it objectives is a good measure of the leadership strength. An organization does not neecssarily need a very VISIBLE strong leader as he/she could be working behind the scence to propel the group/organization to move toward the right direction at the right pace.

___________________________________

When you have a moment

Listen:  “Empower. Invest. Accelerate. Inclusive Leadership as the missing link for advancing women.” The event hosted by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited on March 5th to celebrate International Women’s Day drew nearly 800 callers from 42 countries, some projecting the webcast to additional audiences. The feedback from individuals and companies that participated in the event has been overwhelmingly positive.

The Deloitte IWD recording is now available at http://event.on24.com/r.htm?e=579088&s=1&k=C3435A062472E2D8D6AD8C26E1853C8D.

Read:   Jack Welch and the 4Es of Leadership

Consider:

greatest of greatest fall

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Categories: Leadership, Professional Development

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3 replies

  1. two of my favorite quotes on leadership: a true leader doesn’t build followers but helps shape other leaders; and, there is no shortage of what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.
    very interesting dialogue – thanks to you all –
    Paul Freese Public Counsel Law Center in Los Angeles

    • Hi Paul. Thanks for your comment. When you get a chance, be sure to check out my post on Doug Conant. Dan Rockwell, of Leadership Freak, is hosting a series of free webcasts with gurus of leadership. I’ve attended two which were amazing! Another webcast is scheduled for next week. You can listen to the recording from the first webcast and visit Dan’s blog with links from the post.

      Have a wonderful week,

      Sherry

      • Thanks Sherry! This is a very interesting and edifying dialogue!
        Warmest regards
        Paul Freese

        Sent from Paul’s BlackBerry

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