The title may be humorous but the point is to reflect on some questions that might improve leadership. Even if hopefully none of these symptoms applies there is still a challenge to reflect on why there is so much poor leadership around and how we stop these behaviours taking root in those we have a responsibility to develop.
Generally too busy for the time consuming effort of being present and listening with real attention to what others have to say. Over time build a culture that erodes trust because not listening communicates clearly a lack of respect or interest in others. I attract people who are good game players and who support me by creating an echo chamber for my own thoughts. Inadvertently I’ve established a perfect environment for a toxic culture to take hold.
As I have a very high opinion of myself my thoughts and ideas I make sure to share them whenever possible. I am right about most things most of the time. This also helps me circumvent the discipline of listening to others because I quickly know what they should do and tell them.
I am very sensitive to the symbols of my authority and status. I have sound justification for everything that reinforces my separate, special and unique status. My reserved car parking space, corner office, upgraded travel and club memberships are important symbols of the role I fulfil. (I have long ceased to ponder on the effect of the walls these privileges throw up separating me from those I lead)
Anything less than perfect erodes the standard and performance I want. Mistakes and failures are unacceptable because of how they diminish me and how my reputation will be damaged and undermined. I take great care to avoid failures and mistakes by being a careful driver – I avoid risk, wherever and however possible usually by winning the argument over decisions and imposing my will. The trick of a great player in this game is to talk up and act tough, creating a devil may care persona, whilst in reality carefully avoiding real and actual risks. Where things do go wrong I am quick to distance myself and lay blame elsewhere.
This reflects the fear in my heart of hearts that I will make the wrong decision and that things will go wrong. My thinking is constipated as I search for certainty.
I’ve long forgotten the reasons that drew me to this career am focused on winning the game which means getting to the top. My peers are competitors who I must outperform any success they have makes me sick. The wider goals and objectives of the organization and the people in it are all secondary concerns. I am extremely political and always manage my views to pursue my advantage.
Chances are if you read this far, your not a dickhead – congratulations! But I bet you’ve worked for a few and you know plenty more of them. Do everyone a favour and figure out a way to call it out.
Amos was an old Askari, a night watchman in the highlands of Kenya. He told me once how electricity had come to their village and that it made him sad because they no longer gathered around the fire together to tell stories. Instead, each stayed in his own house, enthralled…Read more
The Legendary Basketball coach John Wooden, would begin each new season by sitting down his new players and demonstrating to them how they were to tie the laces on their shoes. Surely unnecessary? – These athletes had been playing the game for years. Wooden’s point, was that for many things…Read more
‘Clarity begins with realizing what we do not notice—and don’t notice that we don’t notice’. Sir Alex Ferguson the legendary former coach of football club Manchester United was quite clear in his leadership philosophy and approach to coaching that the ability to notice what was going on, to…Read more
‘Attitude is a small thing that makes a big difference.’ Winston Churchill There is an old story about a little girl walking past a building site. As she walks by, she asks in turn 3-workmen what they are doing? The first replies that he is laying bricks. The second…Read more