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Friday, May 1, 2009


The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.
Theodore Roosevelt

I've been thinking a lot about leadership and leaders. It seems that quite a few of the "leaders" I've been around lately have been sucked into the vortex of self fulfillment rather than leading from an "others" perspective. This includes leaders in the ministry, leaders in non-profits, leaders in education, government leaders, as well as corporate leaders.

What do I mean?

When a leader consistently says, in the face of people complaining about their decisions, "Someone has to make the hard decisions," this is bad leadership. SURE, there are decisions that leaders have to make that are tough and that not every person will agree with, but when EVERY decision you make leaves your subordinates feeling like you are part Satan, you need to check your motives.

When a leader consistently responds in a bitter, "I'm a martyr" type reaction, it is fair to say they need to rethink their leadership style. As a leader, you DO sacrifice for the team. But you do it willingly and without throwing those sacrifices in their

When a leader hires a team of people, but fails to show trust for them, that leader has failed. Micromanaging is basically a failure to delegate tasks to others, and then trust them to do them well and in a timely fashion. Micro-managers are so fearful of others doing the work, they undermine others ability to actually do GOOD work because they: change deadlines, change priorities, need excessive reporting, and hover while others do the work.

Leaders that have willing and loyal followers have a lot in common. They listen. They allow their "followers" to have ownership in the projects. They communicate well. They respect their subordinates time, ideas, and creativity. They recognize the successes of their people, and don't feel the need to tout their own. But most of all, they have INTEGRITY.

Do you work for a "bad" leader? I'd love to hear your story!


Jen said...

I completely agree with you regarding the ultra micromanaging. It gets to a point where the people you have working for you just need to be trusted. Otherwise, you did a poor job of picking them.
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backwoods conservative said...

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they'll surprise you with their ingenuity.
-George S. Patton

Patton was aware of the dangers of micromanaging. His philosophy was that a commander should give orders to the level below him and be aware of what was going on at the level below that.

During my years working in manufacturing, I've had the privilege of working for a few really good leaders. I've also worked for some schoolyard bullies who never grew up. Real leadership isn't about making people do what you want, it's about getting them to want to do what needs to be done. The best leaders are those who can put their plans into such effective action that others will want to follow their lead.

The best and most productive crews I've worked with had leaders who expressed confidence in their team's ability, and who treated their people with so much respect and praise for good effort that making the maximum effort was a joy rather than a chore.

Swizz said...

The Rev is an excellent example of a great leader. Every position he's had that included managing other people, his subordinates have raved about how wonderful he is. He's had people cry because they want to continue under him when he's had a change within an organization. He gets people excited to do their very best. Isn't that what a leader should be like?