We all report to someone and we have leaders at all levels. I have been fortunate to have learned from the best leaders that taught me great leadership traits and skills, but I also learned a lot from the bad leaders as well. I learn mostly by observation, and my experiences with all sorts of leaders have put in me in direct contact with many different types. Also, not all leaders are great at everything, but in certain situations, are masters at another.
The bad leaders I have encountered in my career have taught me the things not to do when I am in a position of leadership as I was in the trenches and part of the group that felt the impacts of the decisions or actions a bad leader implemented, said, or done. I have always taken not on what not to do as I think this is just as important as the right things to do. I guess you can say, I thank the bad leaders I learned from, because of them, I won’t make the same mistakes they made… or try to limit them at least.
Leadership can be learned and each one of us can constantly improve our leadership skills. I am constantly observing and learning different ways to improve my leadership skills and the past leaders I have observed have either given best practices that I use til this day, as well as the “bad” practices that I try to avoid. Everyone is human and even though we try to eliminate errors, it is difficult to prepare for any and all situations. This is where transparency is very important and as leader, you should always have a mentor, continually learn and improve your leadership skills and to seek the honest feedback from the people you lead. Be prepared to hear the good, the bad and the ugly. Take the information and improve for the next day and strive to be a better leader tomorrow than you are today. Sometimes the truth hurts, but you have the option to change them, if the truth reveals some things you can change as a leader.
I am sure, I won’t be buying a book or seek bad leaders to coach me on my leadership skills, but as I encounter them, I learn the mistakes and observe how the actions the leader takes and the results it has on the people he/she leads. You can learn a lot from bad leaders, but just be sure to recognize what is bad and what is good leadership. I also suggest not only focusing on bad leadership but focus more on the examples of great leadership. Just like anything else, the 80/20 rule works here as well: Learn from 80% of the great leaders and leadership examples and 20% from the bad leaders. Both can teach you a lot and help you develop your leadership skills.
Please share any examples of bad leadership you have observed below, so that others can learn and not make the same mistakes. Thanks. Ohh… and please, no names please so we can protect the “innocent”.