A Poor Example of Leadership

When I went through leadership training two of the basic principles we were taught is that you should never ask your subordinate to do something you weren’t willing to do yourself, and you should lead by example.

So, here’s an example of a failure of both of those sound leadership principles.

You ask your employees to work extra hours, without pay, to meet unrealistic goals.  You do this regularly, and your employees, having no choice but to comply for fear of losing their jobs, do it.  Rather than staying behind as well, to ensure that your personnel are getting the job done, and to show that you too are sacrificing for the good of the company, you leave on time every day.  As you go out the door on time every day your subordinates are still slaving away at their stations, becoming more and more filled with resentment at their mistreatment.

The result is that you create a hostile work environment, where the employees resent their jobs and resent you for asking them to stay behind when you’re not willing to do it yourself.  These are major failures in leadership, as you undermine your own authority and cause your employees to stop caring about their work.  Employees will start performing to the minimum, rather than trying to excel, because they have no desire to impress you, as they don’t like you to start with.  Eventually that dislike spreads to dislike for the job and the company as a whole, and employees start biding their time until another opportunity comes along, rather than making plans to invest in their careers with the company.

There are right ways to lead and manage people and they’ve been identified as the right ways to do things because they work.  I wonder at how some people attain managerial positions and yet these basic tenets of management and leadership seem beyond their grasp.

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