The office was shabby, cold and dark. The leader of the organization looked me in the eyes and shouted from the bottom of her lungs: "You will never achieve any of your dreams if you don't follow what I say!"
Needless to say, I was a little bit surprised by her outrage. I looked around to see the reaction of my peers. There wasn't any. I couldn't believe it! I could only see the fear in their eyes.
I looked back at our leader and I told her: "We'll see about my dreams. But here's something I know for sure - I will never do anything that is against my principles just because you told me to."
The room went painfully quiet. Then a few of my hypnotized peers jumped forward to "protect her" and to try to "breathe sense into my actions."
That was enough for me! I left and never returned.
When I was younger, I used to believe that leadership is like natural selection - only the best of the best get to rise to such important positions. Only people who possess incredible professional and interpersonal skills. People of principle, integrity, honor. And yes, people with self-control.
But, boy, was I wrong!
Life gave me a lot of examples from both ends of the spectrum. Through school, then my professional racing driver career, university, then business ... And I learned - it doesn't matter what the person's title states - Janitor, Intern, Manager, CEO, President. Great people are not measured by those labels. They are measured by the integrity of their words and actions. Day, after day, after day. They are measured by their drive to always do what's best for another human being - people before money.
I also learned to spot crappy leaders so I never follow the wrong ones. Here's my top 10 list of features of the not-so-amazing leader:
A VERY IMPORTANT NOTE ...
These may all sound perfectly right but they are very often used as excuses by many of us to not take responsibility for what is under our control. And that's a HUGE mistake!
If you are in a position where you feel that you are not being appreciated, both personally and for the value you add, you must do one of three things:
A) Look inwardly first. Speak to a close colleague and ask if he also sees reasons for which you might not be getting what you want at your workplace. Sometimes, the leader might be right for not raising a salary, not giving you more flexibility, etc. Always do some homework before you jump to conclusions. Self-reflection is a great way to look for areas of improvement anyways, so it won't hurt. If you see that there might be a meaningful reason for the situation - adjust and speak to your boss to let them know you've found some weak points you are now working on improving. You might be pleasantly surprised. Your boss (if he/she doesn't suck) will be too.
B) If you know you are right, if you strongly believe in the amazing value you add to the organization - go talk to your boss and demand some respect. Ask for enough time and schedule a meeting - don't just rush through the door and start. When you get to the meeting - be extremely well prepared. Don't blame, don't be a jerk, don't use "you did this," but "this happened, and this is how I feel." Ask for their perspective. Don't approach the conversation as if you were necessarily right. But don't be too soft either. Have a conversation strategy for any possible outcome. Don't forget your end goal and don't leave before you get the answer you were seeking - a yes or a no. You might want to consider taking a Difficult Conversation course (I'm not selling any) before doing all of that - it will help and it's worth it.
C) If nothing works or you feel that you are in the wrong place, you know very well what to do.
"To whom it may concern.
Your ex KICKASS team member"
There are no other options! Many of us think that we should just keep blaming the system, the universe, faith, God, our boss, our job, our company, our country, politics, our family, our looks, our bad breath for our circumstances. But that's wrong.
If we are not happy - we must leave. But never complain.
OK, there might be one last option in some cases. But that's very rare. Use it as a very last resort and don't settle there for too long! Let's say, for some very logical reason (with no bull$it excuses), you cannot leave. You're doing your best to find a different job. You're doing your best to start your own business. It's taking longer than you expect and leaving now holds risks that are too severe. What do you do?
D) If you MUST stay and you feel terrible for it - work on yourself (you must do that anyway). Meditate. Read. Take some coaching. Realize that if your boss sucks so bad, he/she must have gone through some really tough times too. Have you heard the saying - "hurt people hurt people?" It's true. Never forget that! Instead of blaming them, instead of being judgemental (just like they are), do the opposite. Support them. Be amazing. Not because they necessarily deserve it. Maybe they don't. But you do it because you are this type of person now. Do it for you! If anything, you will shock them. And they might transform, just like you did. It's a win, win.
What is your experience with bad leaders? How did you deal with the situation? What else can we add to this article?
After years of testing, after all experiences as a professional racing driver, an entrepreneur, a Neuro-Linguistic Programming Coach, and simply a human being that wants to grow, I've narrowed down a set of skills that help me win the day, the week, and the game of life.
After years of testing, after all experiences as a professional racing driver, an entrepreneur, a Neuro-Linguistic Programming Coach, and simply a human being that wants to grow, I've narrowed down a set of habits, skills, routines that help me win the day, the week, and the game of life.