Friday, February 22, 2013

Working with or for Incompetent Leadership

Incompetent leaders ruin the organization
There are plethora of articles, blogs, talks and documentaries on great leadership and how great leadership is supposed to work. But let's face it, a minute percentage of leaders are great, a small number of leaders are average and the vast majority are below average or simply shouldn't be in a leadership position. At least that's been my experience in the real world. Most people simply aren't trained or developed to be leaders. Most companies don't have leadership mentors. Most supervisors and other leaders aren't going to take time out of their schedule to mentor unless there is something in it for them.

For most companies or organizations, you enter leadership simply by being good at whatever it is you do or having the right connections. I'm going to go out on a limb and say most would be good or great leaders are among the follower ranks. It seem that it's always the loud extroverts who know how to "BS" upper management that get the promotions over the quiet introverts who actually know how get the job done and positively influence people.

What exactly is bad leadership? Many times what we perceive as bad leadership is a matter of personality differences, differences in leadership preferences and many of us just unaccepting of leadership change.

If we're honest, there are no ideal leaders. Even what we perceive as great leaders have their faults. But despite their faults, we agree that most good leaders are fair. Whether we like their decision or not.

Here are a few problems we have with bad leaders:
  • Unable to make tough decisions
  • Choose not to punish those who do not perform
  • Inability to help followers when help is needed
  • Shuffle work on others because of others who didn't do their work
  • Choose not to listen to other ideas
  • Talk down to workers
  • Don't recognize the workers who do perform
If any of us have been in the working world at least for a little while, we've all worked for leaders who have had one if not all the characteristics mentioned above. But here is the sober reality, there is nothing we can do about those type of leaders and we can't change them. So what can we do?
  • Do your job to the best of your ability
  • Find a common ground where you and your leader(s) can agree if possible
  • Have a one-on-one talk about you and your bosses working relationship (Don't expect anything going to change overnight. People rarely if every change)
  • Try to be part of the solution
  • Find ways to benefit the team
  • Pick up the slack where leadership fall
  • Try to find out what you're supposed to learn from the experience
  • Look for opportunites to help the team or organization
As I stated earlier, most advice is easier said than done. Suggesting anything (even in a professional manner) can be perceived by your leader as encroaching upon his authority. Be careful. I'm not saying not to approach your leader but develop a relationship first and develop a good reputation.

What suggestions do you have for dealing with incompetent leaders? How did you deal with them? Waiting anxiously to receive yor thoughts.

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