Every action you take as a leader will leave others either better or worse. Once the action is taken, it cannot be taken back.
This should be a haunting thought for leaders at any level because it speaks to the importance of the position of leadership. One of the key problems that exists today is that leaders often act without thinking about the ripple effect of their actions. There are three characteristics of a bad leader that stand out more than the others in my mind. They are the perspective of the leader, the presentation of the leader, and the focus of the leader.
Perspective - The perspective of the leader relates to whether they are looking out for the good of their people AND their organization, or they are looking out for the good of themselves within the organization. Leaders that ruin the lives of their teams are focused on self first and often to the exclusion of their people. They seek ways to be right rather than seeking ways to create both success and harmony for the team. If you think for even a split second, you will likely be able to generate a picture of a person who operates in this self-centered model of leadership. Think about how you would feel working under them, or how you did feel. You knew that you were not the priority and likely felt that you were expendable as a result of their perspective.
Presentation - Leaders who ruin lives are mean and/or deceptive in the way they present their information to others. Being assertive, being driven, being a leader who knows what they want and why they want it is not a bad thing. It is when the leaders seeks ways to put others in their place that things become unacceptable. When the line is crossed into belittling others and damaging trust, one can be sure that the leader cares little about others and a great deal about themselves. One of the most critical things we can do as leaders is focus on communicating in such a way that others feel valued and appreciated. I have seen leaders at all levels, even CEOs, who have left organizations because of the presentation nature of those above them.
Focus - Leaders who focus on money to the exclusion of their mission will create followers who focus on themselves to the exclusion of the customer. The way that we create success through our people is by understanding what our personal mission and purpose is within the organization. You are not here to make money. Money is a byproduct of you living into a purpose, but it cannot be the main pursuit. When you create a product, service, or objective that delivers more value and more use than the cost, people will always want to be a part of it. It doesn't matter if you are a for-profit, not-for-profit, or even an educational institution, your focus has to be on delivering better service than the customer expected. When we are tuned in to serving others, success chases us down. This is so true for leaders! As leaders, we are here to serve our teams and build their success. This does not mean we are doing their job. It does, however, mean that we are giving them the emotional, cognitive, and physical resources they need to do their job to the best of their abilities. Focus on your people and they will always bring you profits. Focus on your profits and you will soon need new people.
The damage a bad leader does to the longterm mental health of their teams is intense. Over the last 19 years, I have seen dozens of top people by title destroy the psychological well-being of the people who worked for them. Since I began my company, I have wanted to help people find their potential and live into it. People cannot be the best version of themselves when they feel beaten down. Go out of your way to lift people up today and every day. Invest in them. Care about them. Want success for them before you want it for yourself. Stop needing to be right and start needing to be successful as a leader because the two are often mutually exclusive.
Lead with heart!