Managers: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

leading a team

It’s easy to be a great leader… so why are there so few?

Both in and out of our work life we are surrounded by leaders. Some in business, some political, some spiritual, but leaders all the same. It goes without saying, some good, some bad and yes, some ugly. Over my 40 years in high tech, 20 in executive roles, I’ve been blessed by many great leaders … and several, well should we say, duds? Learning from all of them, I would like to share some invaluable insight I have gained along the way.

What makes a good leader?

Mark Twain writes, “To be good is noble; but to show others how to be good is nobler and no trouble.”

Isn’t that the essence of a good leader?

  • First and foremost, leaders make you and everyone else feel important.
  • Good leaders understand that human capital is the most important asset of any organization, so they treat their employees like they are.
  • Leaders give credit to all the people around them, verses taking credit for accomplishments of the group. Even though the leader had a hand in the accomplishment, they know it was the employee that made it happen and the value of praise.
  • Leaders strive to teach everyone to be good. My favorite Mark Twain quote reads: “To be good is noble; but to show others how to be good is nobler and no trouble.” Leaders that understand and practice that, go far.
  • Leaders are quiet, but when they speak, they have a message. Leaders know that when they are talking, they are not listening.
  • Leader are driven, but don’t drive people … they lead them. Pull a string across the table and it will follow you … push it and it will get all knotted up.
  • Leaders surround themselves with good, honest, hardworking people.

Good leaders are calm in a storm, fair to a fault, and use laughter as an agent of culture.

To become a good leader, avoid these traits:

  • Bad leaders are self-absorbed. They rise to a level of authority based on the noise they make, not the leadership they show.
  • Bad leaders believe they are smarter than everyone around them. They generally are not.
  • Bad leaders love the sound of their own voice, and only hear themselves talk.
  • Bad leaders care only about their own well-being.

Are great leaders born or made? You know the answer to that. They were the the kids that we looked up to in school. They were the kids that left their home towns in search of a dream. They were the kids who got somewhere through hard work, on their own.

Over the next few weeks, I would like to review the traits of some of the great (and dud) leaders which I have witnessed over the years.

To be continued…