At the beginning of my leadership workshops, one of the ice-breaking activities is to have the participants think about and jot down the characteristics and behaviors of great and lousy leaders that they’ve experienced in their careers.
It’s always fun to watch the small groups attack this task with relish. Some groups immediately move towards the “lousy” leaders column and literally burn through the ink in their markers. Others gravitate towards the “great” leaders column and often lose track of the assignment as they start describing to their group members why so and so was such a great leader.
One element of this exercise that is very predictable is the listing of the items that make it into each column. In class after class and by now with several hundred data points, the words and behaviors are consistently the same.
The Lousy Leaders:
- Don’t pay attention
- Actions don’t match words
- Self-serving agenda-all about them
- No coaching or feedback/focuses on weaknesses
- No developmental support
- CYA style of leading
- Not approachable
- Won’t make a decision
- Supported my professional development
- Treated me with respect at ll times
- Gave me feedback/coaching
- Makes decisions in a timely manner
- Pushed me out of my comfort zone
- Didn’t throw me under the bus when I made a mistake
- Acted as a mentor and teacher
- Easy to approach
- Gave me room to grow and learn