I hear and read a whole lot of material on how leaders should act. The traits of a great leader and how you can be a great leader if you follow some principles…
like the following…
Over-communicates, a great leader will constantly communicate and ensure everyone is fully informed and that they know more than what they need to know.
If you want to be a great leader you should keep your promises and keep your commitments.
Preach by example, do what you ask of others and never be scared to get your hands dirty.
Great leaders admit their mistakes.
Great leaders accept the limitations, but collectively work to find ways around them.
Trust your team, trust is the single best trait a leader can instil in their team. Trust builds safety, safety builds innovation, innovation builds the future.
You want to be a great leader then ask for feedback… be brave and listen and accept the feedback. Work to change and adapt from the feedback. Feedback is a gift.
Don’t have favourites… this will destroy everything from within. Seek to treat everyone fairly
A great leader listens. Really Listen. Actively Listen… great leaders, well, they, LISTEN.
Act consistently in everything that you do, if you don’t, you will confuse everyone and any direction will be lost in a mire of blame.
Put the team’s success before yours… stand in the way of blame and absorb the failures as your own and recognise the successes as belonging to others.
All of this is great stuff and I believe in it…. but what happens when you have a tyrannical leader.
Every story has two sides to it. Every Ying has a Yang.
How can you be the great leader of people as detailed above, when the leader of you is a self absorbed maniac or similar?
This is when I believe in the phrase; the shadow of the leader…
Look around in any workplace that has a poor leader and you will see how the ‘shadow’ plays out…
You will see the people who drink the kool aid and will do anything for the boss, these people are the ones that claim ‘I was just following orders’… this is the devil in us all, if we don’t fight it. This is the Power Hungry.
The Foot Soldiers make up the ranks of the heads down and just get on with it people. The chameleons, as they will shed a skin from leader to manager. They go home at night and sleep soundly as they have no conscience. They are a blank canvas.
You will have the people I will call the ‘Audience’… the ones that watch and say nothing. These people end up as victims at some point, they just don’t know it yet.
You will see the people who try to save others, Schindler’s list style (a life changing movie and a must see). These people have an automatic protective nature and although not dying for a cause… are working furiously, in secret to save as many as they can. They are the Underground Movement.
You have the Resistance, the ones that will take a bullet for a cause that is greater than them. These people get marginalised and taken out frequently. They are an endangered species.
Others just leave the business… ‘People join companies and leave leaders’. The Leavers.
All sounds dramatic…
Not half as dramatic as working in that type of environment and trying hard to fulfil your role as an effective leader.
If you are the leader and you work with people then by all means focus on the traits of ‘being an effective leader’… from Trusting your teams, to listen effectively and recognising others…
…Because that is the absolutely right thing to do and the right person to be. Fact.
But never forget!!
Never forget the alternative dimension I painted rather dramatically above…
Because that is the reality of being a bad leader… you have the fate of others in your hand.
As a leader, above all else… you must choose wisely because you cast a shadow.
You decide how far and dark that shadow can be!!
Make a choice.