What makes a leader stupid? Most believe it is a combination of a number of unattractive and unproductive behaviors that are incorporated into their style that makes them unsuccessful, along with a refusal to change. A stupid leader is a committed self-serving leader. They see every situation and activity from their own vantage point and are unable to head in a different direction.
Learning how to be a successful leader requires time and attention on what the stupid leader behaviors are, so by doing the opposite, a person can develop into a smart leader instead. While the following list is anything but complete, it is a good start of some of the top things to include if you too want to be known as a stupid leader someday.
Allow Your Ego to Lead You
Stupid leaders are known for being arrogant and full of themselves. They don’t need a formal fan club because they are so enamored by their greatness that they lack the need for reinforcement. If you remember to lead with your ego, and always remember your importance in the scheme of things, nothing can go wrong.
Cultivate a Selective Memory
Stupid leaders remember things that go well and things that make them look good. Of course there may be times where you are fully aware of a situation, that has now gone bad, but if you forget the details, hey, you are just human. Finding out the bad news with everyone else is even better, because you have the added benefit of plausible deniability to lean on too. Just remember that too much memory loss could be considered a liability, so there may be times you remember a small detail while most of the story is fuzzy.
Take Credit for All Good Deeds
A stupid leader knows the value of good publicity, and is always quick to the podium or press release when there is good news to share. Stupid leaders know that there is no “I” in TEAM, but are equally aware that there is a “ME” in those letters. Sharing credit with others is time consuming, and if it were not for your leadership, whatever good that did happen is really secondary. Keep your focus and rather than taking time to mention other people, just arrange the talking points to make yourself the center of attention.
Blame Others for Troubles
Stupid leaders also realize that when trouble hits, it is a perfect time to remember you lead a team of people and they are open to human error. Whenever possible point out people with complete name, title and responsibilities whenever you need a fall guy or girl to blame. Taking responsibility for something that goes bad is simply not a way to end the day on a good note, so learn the art of finger-pointing and get good at it!
Avoid the Truth
Now while many people call it lying, it is better to call it a redirection or deflection. When people ask a direct question, often they think they want a direct answer. The real truth is they want to feel good, and telling them what they want to hear avoids conflict. Don’t worry about them finding out later what really happened, by then they will forget who told them. And even if they have you on video, you can always say they misunderstood your intent. Bottom line, truth builds trust between people, and that is the last thing a really stupid leader wants to build.
Demonize Your Enemies
One of the best skills a stupid leader must be good at is to demonize anyone that is against your vision and success. Just because they have a different opinion doesn’t make them right, and debating them is a big waste of time. These people are against you, and just like in war they are the enemy. For a stupid leader to be successful they must make their enemies appear incompetent, immoral or crazy. Don’t hide behind a lampshade and expect others to do this for you. Get out there and trash these people yourself!
Close Your Mind to New Ideas
Serious stupid leaders know that for them to lead others it is important never to share the stage, less the followers lose focus on them. Listening to other ideas would only spark a possible change in direction, and stupid leaders know with certainty that changing course makes you look weak. Sticking to your own ideas no matter how wrong you might be only opens the door to criticism. And imagine what would happen if you did try another approach and it worked; you would have to share the credit!
Talk Your Talk and Avoid the Walk
So called leadership gurus have been saying for years that it is more important to walk your talk than talk it. But stupid leaders know that if you talk long enough, and keep the message on track, people begin to believe that snow is hot to the touch. Walking in any direction only confuses people, and talking more saves the wear and tear on your new shoes.
Flaunt Your Success
Lastly, it is so important for a stupid leader never to forget to flaunt their success in everyone’s face. If you got a big bonus, tell everyone how you are going to spend it. While staff members may have to save for a year to stay at a KOA camp with their family for a week, they will look up to you once they know you and your family booked your own private cruise ship for a round the world trip.
Sadly we can all visualize a leader that should have their picture next to each of these points, and it was a challenge not to select photos to illustrate as examples. The lessons to be learned are simple because we need only do the opposite of what it takes to be a really stupid leader so that we can be a really brilliant leader instead.
[ Originally published 7/21/14 on www.linked2leadership.com ]