5 Characteristics of Weak Leaders (and How Not to Be One)

Sometimes you study from constructive position fashions. Often you study from adverse ones. This is among the causes I like to learn historical past—you invariably see each.

After watching Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, I made a decision to reread Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It is a page-turning account of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency and his political genius.

At the start of Lincoln’s first time period, he appointed every of his former Republican rivals—those that had run towards him for his social gathering’s nomination—to cupboard posts. The narrative demonstrates his superb means to faucet right into a broad array of views and create alignment amongst those that typically disagreed violently with each other.

Unfortunately, Lincoln’s management was not good. He sometimes chosen males for public service who had been unworthy of his belief. One such particular person was Gen. George B. McClellan, commander of the Army of the Potomac and, finally, first general-in-chief of the Union Army.

McClellan had important character flaws that may function warning indicators to anybody in management. Ultimately, these price him dearly: He misplaced Lincoln’s confidence, his job, and a run for the White House (towards Lincoln). Worse, his missteps extended the Civil War and price the lives of tens of hundreds of troopers on either side of the battle.

I wish to share 5 flaws I famous in McClellan as I learn Goodwin’s ebook. These traits virtually outline what it means to be a weak chief. And the checklist doubles as a handy self-evaluation instrument if you wish to keep away from turning into one.

1. Hesitating to Take Definitive Action

McClellan was continually making ready. According to him, the Army was by no means fairly prepared. The troops simply wanted a bit of extra coaching. In his procrastination, he refused to interact the enemy, even when he clearly had the benefit. He may simply not carry himself to launch an assault. When Lincoln lastly relieved him of his duties, he famously stated, “If General McClellan doesn’t wish to use the military, I want to borrow it for a time.”

I meet folks on a regular basis who appear to be without end making ready. They’d wish to launch a brand new product, discover one other job, write their first ebook—however they simply can’t appear to tug the set off.

One of an important management qualities you may develop is practising the artwork of the beginning. Perfectionism is the mom of procrastination. You’re by no means going to search out the proper time or the proper circumstances or be completely ready. At some level you need to kick into motion.

What is it it’s good to do that you just’ve been procrastinating: a tough dialog, a venture to approve, an individual to fireplace, a name to make? Whatever the following step, simply do it.

2. Complaining About Insufficient Resources

McClellan continually complained in regards to the lack of obtainable sources. He didn’t have sufficient males. His males weren’t paid sufficient. They didn’t have sufficient heavy artillery. On and on he went.

Leaders who do that by no means get very far. I don’t care if you happen to personal your personal enterprise, lead a division in a serious company, or head a nonprofit. You’re in place to ship an consequence, and your job is to determine how one can get the sources or make do with out them.

The reality is that, as a frontrunner, you by no means have sufficient sources. You may at all times use extra of 1 factor or one other. But profitable leaders determine how one can get the job executed with no matter sources they’ve. How?

By utilizing the one factor you possess that’s doubtlessly limitless: your creativeness. Ultimately, there is no such thing as a such factor as inadequate sources; there are solely unresourceful folks.

3. Refusing to Take Responsibility

McClellan blamed everybody else for his errors and his personal refusal to behave. He even blamed the president. Every time he suffered a defeat or a setback, somebody or one thing was guilty. He was a grasp finger-pointer. Great leaders don’t do that. They are accountable for the outcomes and settle for full duty for the outcomes.

Once, a guide requested me about my firm’s monetary efficiency. We missed the goal for that month, and I blamed the financial system. “I get it, the atmosphere is hard,” she responded, “But let’s be sincere. It’s at all times powerful, proper? Michael, what’s it about your management that led to this consequence?”

Whoa! I immediately felt defensive, however she helped me alongside. “As lengthy as the issue is on the market, you may’t repair it. You’re only a sufferer. I’m not attempting to disgrace you; I’m attempting to empower you. You can’t change your outcomes till you settle for full duty for them.”

U.S. Navy SEALs Jocko Willink and Leif Babin name this extreme ownership.

Once you settle for duty, you may change the consequence. You might not management the circumstances you’re in, however you do management your response. Changing the result’s as easy (or as exhausting) as altering your response. Imagine how completely different your loved ones, church, firm, and even the nation might be if everybody took private duty for his or her outcomes.

4. Abusing the Privileges of Leadership

While his troops had been struggling in virtually insufferable circumstances, McClellan lived in near-royal splendor. He spent virtually each night entertaining friends with elaborate dinners and events. He insisted on the very best garments and lodging. His life-style—underwritten by taxpayers—stood in distinct distinction to that of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, McClellan’s eventual successor.

Leadership is at first a stewardship, as Andy Stanley says. We by no means maintain it for ourselves; we maintain it on behalf of another person. If you’re able of management, it’s to serve. And guess what? You’re accountable. If you abuse it, you’ll finally lose it, as Gen. McClellan did.

As a frontrunner of an organization, right here’s how I take a look at potential actions and selections. “If a reporter or a non-public investigator had been following me round, how would the alternatives I’m making right now seem in the event that they had been on the entrance web page of The Wall Street Journal?” Our unhealthy selections have a humorous manner of coming to mild, and, as a frontrunner, it’s good to reside with that prospect in clear view.

5. Engaging in Acts of Insubordination

McClellan overtly and regularly criticized his boss, President Lincoln, by being passive-aggressive. Even when Lincoln gave him a direct order, McClellan discovered a strategy to keep away from obeying it. In his vanity, he at all times knew higher than the president and had a prepared excuse to rationalize his lack of follow-through.

Criticizing your boss in public? Never a good suggestion. As Solomon suggested hundreds of years in the past, “Do not curse the king, even in your thought; don’t curse the wealthy, even in your bed room; for a hen of the air might carry your voice, and a hen in flight might inform the matter.” People in authority will finally discover out what you’ve stated, and once they do, don’t be stunned if you happen to get fired. You had been asking for it.

If you disagree along with your boss’s path and really feel deeply about it, then confront in non-public or resign. This actually comes down a matter of integrity. Even in case your boss is incompetent, you will have the responsibility to respect her or him. If you may’t do this, it’s good to resign. Speaking out publicly when you’re nonetheless employed is simply not an choice. And it’s not very sensible.

Lincoln had the persistence of Job. He gave McClellan quite a few alternatives to right his conduct and redeem himself. But in the long run, McClellan both couldn’t or wouldn’t achieve this. He left the president no selection however to alleviate him of his duties.

The lesson has been misplaced on leaders in later generations. Both Gen. Douglas MacArthur and Gen. Stanley McChrystal misplaced their jobs for insubordination too.

Look up or down the road of command in lots of organizations, and it’s straightforward to see these 5 character flaws afflict many leaders right now. If you’re a frontrunner, the very best safeguard towards them is self-awareness. Reading books like Team of Rivals, or simply reviewing a listing like this may give you important perception about your personal behaviors.

And when you see your weaknesses clearly, you may construct the corresponding strengths into your character and your management.



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