|By Carl ToersBijns, former deputy warden, ASPC Eyman, Florence AZ|
Remember the line in “G.I. Jane” when the Master Chief says, “there are no bad crews, just bad leaders.” Leadership is often overrated. The word leadership itself is vague as there are many versions or words supporting the meaning of such a position. However, leadership is not positional and thus often misplaced or applied to the wrong person in the situation. Some common traits of bad leaders include ego, poor vision or decision making abilities, the enticement of success and many more discussed as we get into bad leaders.
One can say, there are no bad work groups, just bad leaders and many would be right for saying so. The first question you have to ask yourself when you evaluate leadership is the primary mission and cause for such a unique individual spot. What do you expect this leader to do and what is it they are good at. Since most article are about ‘good leaders’ I am writing the next best thing, the qualities of a bad leader.
I know a thing or two about good leadership. But good leadership is very rare. I have known and worked with and worked for many bad leaders. Plus I have been a bad leader many times in my life. A bad leader will often supervise or manage more than they can handle. A bad leader will distribute too much responsibility. This type of leader gives them too much without knowing their skills or what they are good at but most of all, what they are bad at and what drives their motivation.
Bad leaders get jealous of the people underneath them and never hire people smarter than them. This is the #1 most common thing a bad leader does.
Bad leaders never have a good answer or solution to the problem. They inspire no self-growth and fail in putting together teams and assignments. There is no common goal. But here’s the #1 thing leaders fail at. No vision.
What’s a vision? Instead of defining it, demonstrate it. The only thing you can do is lead by example. Since bad leaders can’t unify without instilling fear, intimidation or make false promises, he or she can’t define roles and inspire others to be willing to follow.
Bad leaders talk badly about others – they openly criticize their own staff, senior or subordinate and tag them with names degrading and often metaphorically connected to a trait that is associated with them personally or professionally.
Talking bad about others shows contempt, hate, and disregard and will destroy morale and productivity. They are the ones who carry the leader, yet the leader despises them and their lack of worth. Bad leaders will always block others working for them to excel and allow them to perform at their best levels. Good Leadership is not about achieving your dream. It’s about helping everyone else achieve their dreams. This is not the employees’ fault. Everything comes from the leaders. Trickle-down leadership is the only leadership.
Bad leaders fear others passing them up on the performance scales or any other form of continual success. Bad leaders refuse to mentor and give block people a chance to stand out. They would rather see them fail. Bad leadership asks the question ‘how good can I get? How far can I get?’ Good leadership asks the question, “How far can the people around me get?” Bad leaders kill motivation and visionary or creative ideas.
Bad leaders don’t know their people, their numbers, and their business on a day to day basis. They carry around them someone who has the answers for them. They take no interest in the intricate parts of the job and depend on others to deliver those answers on cue. They will never acknowledge this shortcoming and deny they are dumb or ignorant of their needs to improve. They have a hard time coming up with the right solutions since they lack, competence, relationships, autonomy and the ability to seek the solution on their own.
Bad leaders don’t get rid of bad people. They hire, select or retain corrupt individuals who are mired in character flaws as well as performance deficiencies. Since there is no mentorship present, the corrupt only get more corrupt and eventually fail the leader at their own risks. Bad leadership, no matter what the situation, can cause almost instantaneous collapse.
Bad leaders often have enormous charisma or magnetic persona that gives them a smart first impression. He or she is willing to ‘jump into the game’ and be a good team player for the cause compromising values and morals in a form of submission in many situations.
Bad leaders smoke ‘crack’ kind of dope referring to the lack of cognitive skill biases and inability to make right decisions under the wrong conditions. They waste time, resources, effort and money on all the wrong things. They don’t see their own failings and deny the failure is due to their part and blame others. Their brains will never say, “Maybe I’ve made a mistake”.
A bad leader will not admit his or her faults or even think about them. It’s too painful to think about those faults because of this cognitive bias. The brain will revolt or the leader will get depressed or start to doubt his leadership skills. Bad leaders will not step outside their own shadow and treat themselves as an outsider to see the problem from another angle or view. They lack due diligence on their own abilities or that of the organization.
Bad leaders were bad employees in the past before their promotion. Leadership begins long before you reach the top of any organization or community. Bad leaders refuse to give credit where credit is due and refuse to recognize others in their personal achievements. Leadership starts at the bottom, and floats to the top by creating positive things or results and the success of self as well as others with a visionary perspective of how the team can be successful.
Corrections.com author, Carl ToersBijns, (retired), has worked in corrections for over 25 yrs He held positions of a Correctional Officer I, II, III [Captain] Chief of Security Mental Health Treatment Center – Program Director – Associate Warden - Deputy Warden of Administration & Operations. Carl’s prison philosophy is all about the safety of the public, staff and inmates, "I believe my strongest quality is that I create strategies that are practical, functional and cost effective."
Other articles by ToersBijns:
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT