You’re the one who is always looking for the next opportunity to lead. When someone is needed to step up and take the lead, you volunteer. You get jazzed about growth in challenging circumstances.
Well, that’s me! And, since I’m passionate about intentional growth, I’m easily frustrated by unproductive leadership and the resulting wasted potential within organizations. If you’re trapped in this unfortunate situation, check out Michael Hyatt’s 5 Ways to Cope with Bad Leaders.
I’ve served with some remarkable leaders in several organizations – and I’ve served with some not-so-remarkable leaders. To be honest, I’ve made many mistakes in leadership. My leaders and my teams have been more than patient, even gracious, as I have grown to lead more effectively.
So, what good can come from serving with a poor leader? Here are four things I’ve learned from poor leaders in my own leadership journey:
- Follow first. I enjoy leading. In fact, I like leading more than following. Following bores me. But I’ve learned that effective leaders have learned to follow well. Trust me – following is not easy for a maverick – particularly when your leader is incompetent, inattentive, or apathetic. There have been seasons when my only choice was to follow the unproductive demands of a toxic leader. And following has made me a better leader.
- Care for my team. Poor leaders have provided great opportunities for me to show authentic care and support for my team. My most memorable moments are regular one-on-one meetings with my team members helping them develop personally and professionally through the pain. We simply cannot grow and lead with purpose if we don’t ACTIVELY care for others.
- Value progress. There are times when toxic leadership affects the productivity and performance of the team – when your leader is an obstacle to your efforts. This drives me nuts! Because I want to be always improving and leading my team to perform more effectively and more efficiently. So I’ve learned to value and celebrate progress and focus on making significant improvements in areas where the team does have freedom.
- Give it time. In his book about Necessary Endings, Dr. Henry Cloud says there may come a time when the behavior of a poor leader is unsustainable and part of you is dying. That’s when the relationship needs to end. And I’ve found that to be true. Here’s what is interesting – in EVERY instance of poor leadership in my career, I didn’t have to manipulate the situation or get in a hurry for the relationship to end. It was only a matter of time before the toxic leader was moved or I was moved. Every time, I ended up in a better position for me, for my family, and for better developing a new team.
Question: What have you learned from your poor leaders? Leave a comment.