We've all experienced it; whether in a group project in class or in an organization from our childhood, the chances are we've all felt the repercussions of leadership gone wrong. The principle that everyone rises to their level of incompetency assures that at some point, we're likely to be under the instruction of someone who has reached that point – they might have a wealth of knowledge, but that doesn't qualify them to lead some else. This is always challenging, but an interesting thing I have found is that I've learned some of the best leadership lessons that way. It's been great to observe the leaders I most admire, yet the starkest examples come when I see what I don't want to do. So I've certainly learned what to avoid, and the best way to see firsthand the repercussions of those things has been to have them happen to me; the goal, then, is that I can keep them from happening to others.
1. Not admitting what they don't know.Giphy
When a leader thinks they know everything, they don't ask for help. But the fact is, no one is an expert in every area. The key is less of memorizing everything you might need to know, and more of realizing where to find it when you need it. You can always tell someone you'll get back to them later, or that you don't know but you'll find out.
2. Not giving credit where credit is due.Giphy
This is big in the way I've learned to lead: if something goes wrong, you take responsibility, yet if something is right, you credit your people. That's something I never fully understood until I had to do it – but after leading an amazing team for one week, at the end I realized I fully did want them to share in the credit; they were more on the front lines than I was, and their hard work deserved recognition even if they were following the instructions I gave.
3. Putting up a front.Giphy
There are very few things I dislike more than fake people, and when someone acts perfect for all the world to see and then acts completely different when working with their people, I'm less apt to want to genuinely help them. You have to be real and honest. Nobody is perfect, so no one can expect that of you. In fact, you're not only doing your team a disservice, but you're doing yourself one, too. You have a unique personality, and gifts that will equip you in your work; if you cover that up to appear a certain way, you're not living up to your full potential.
4. Being patronizingGiphy
Just because you're a leader, you don't always know more than the most experienced person on your team. Some people can accept that, and with good team dynamic they use everyone's skills and have no qualms with it. But others are less secure and feel that would be threatening. Instead, they patronize their team. Those with immense knowledge might not be consulted, and those with potential aren't given the opportunity to try it out.
5. Not taking risks.Giphy
Yes, I know it's risky… but if you always play it safe, you'll never know. Sometimes the mistakes you make will prevent worse ones later, or everything could turn out more fabulously than expected! Or, yes, you might fail - but you will learn. Either way, if you do it the way it's 'always been done,' nothing will change for the worse; but nothing will change for the better, either. You have to take risks because that's what leading is for. It's not for maintaining the status quo, or for everyone to have a perfect opinion of you.