Last month I announced to the world my five signs of a bad leader.
Having wrote the piece several months ago, I didn't know that so many of you would have agreed with me, but you did. For days, email after email poured in about bad leadership, so I decided to answer a few. In the interest of privacy, I've changed details to assure confidentiality. Thanks for trusting me with your stories.
Sam, The Boomer Who Needs To Work a Little Longer
Katie, Reading your article was validating and encouraging, as recently I faced a challenge of working with toxic and manipulative leaders. If you are 50+ what would you do when you have such bad leaders that you are reporting to and you still need to support your family? I need to work a little longer and I'm afraid the market might not take someone with my years of experience.
Sam, 50 or not, you deserve to work in a toxic and manipulative free environment. Are there other areas of the company where you can contribute your skills? I understand there's a fear to leave something later in your career, but the baby boomers are redefining what retirement is and will look like. What options exist outside your company? Have you explored? Build and lean in to your network and create a few options for yourself so you don't feel compelled to stay in your current environment.
Sally, Recently Promoted to Take Her Bad Bosses Job
Katie, I recently read an article you had on bad leaders. I recently experienced one, he is a good person, even a good friend, but not a very good leader. He recently was let go and I have now been given the opportunity to take over this position. I have never considered myself to be a person to be in a position of management, however I do feel that I am a good leader. I'm going back and forth on taking this new position in fear that I won't be given the resources to become a great leader. Any advice or questions I should ask myself?
Sally, First of all, breathe, and congratulations! You just got a promotion. Indeed, bad leaders are good people, but it sounds like your company made a decision to move him out because of his performance. Before you ask for help, find out what you need. What skills and potential do you have in your team? What gaps do you have? What will it take to fill those gaps But remember, if you don't ask, you won't get. If you still don't know, hire a professional coach. If your leadership doesn't want to make the investment, you should. Either way you will be investing in the best stock you have: YOU!
To both Sam and Sally, I have a common piece of advice.
What does that mean? It means no matter how much you fear (or who you have placed your fear in, like an awful boss), you have to get in the driver's seat and drive. You are the only one holding yourself back from winning - whether that's finding a new job, taking a new promotion, or earning more money.
In life... if you aren't going forward, you're staying in place.
And, bad leaders stay in place because they can't GO. They lack the skills needed to be agile and are incapable of growth.
We don't get anywhere by staying safe on the sidelines wondering, thinking, and over analyzing about the "what if". Bad leaders do. They love to meander and hang out. It's why they never get anywhere.
I thought about this for a moment this weekend when I went with my daughter, Ally to a birthday party. After we cut the cake, the kids were released to play games in the open area. Ally immediately ran to the race cars. She's 3 and just made the height limit for riding as a passenger. "Mommy, can I please ride? I want to go!" I hesitated for a few short moments while I watched her delight in the potential of taking a few spins. We went. She loved it and raved about it all weekend long.
Sometimes I wonder what it might be like if we were all 3 again. We'd put away the fear and insecurities we have about our lives and the baggage and bad people who come with it ... and just GO.
What are you doing today to move forward in your work and life? What people are you putting in your village to help you get there?