All leadership sucks including mine


John W. McKenna is challenging bloggers to write up their thoughts on wh - or if - most leadership sucks. I've written a bit about leadership in "Leading from the inside out". That post was more about a specific leadership style, and not so much a qualitative reflections on it. For this post I'll rephrase the statement in the title into a question: "What makes leadership suck?"

To answer this we should first talk about about what it means for leadership to "suck." The question might be further refined by adding "for whom." What is bad leadership anyway? When is it bad? From one POV, leadership is bad when it doesn't achieve the goal that was set. What goal, set by whom?

When employees claim that their leadership sucks, it is mostly because they are treated poorly, their qualifications are disresoected, their efforts are frustrated, they are not given credit etc. Their goals are not beig met by the leadership they are confronted with. It sucks.

for management, leadership sucks when dealines are not met, milestones are not achieved, resources are wasted.

Taking even only these two sides into account, it is possible that the very same leadership succeeds and sucks at the very same time, depemding on who you ask.

Truly sucky leadership then might be when it sucks from most POVs, also ALSO does not achieve any of the goals it was intended to.

If we simply count the number of voices who claim that a certain leardership sucks, it is highl likely that we get a majority vote of thumb down. But does that mean that it has missed it's goal? Consider the martial example of leadership (yeah, business is warfare yada yada - not). The dog soldier will certainly not be happy to die a certain and painful death, for whatever reason. Does the leadership suck though? How do we decide this? By the overall result or by the opinion of the individuals involved?

Leadership that makes most of the individuals affected by it happy will naturally get a majority vote of thumbs up. After all, the goals of most were achieved. But if the overall goal was not? Everybody kept their job, but the company went out of business.

From some of what I wrote above, my conclusion is this:

Leadership, whatever it's form or method sucks when:

Wastefulness might be the one unifying measurement that even leaders and followers can agree on. Employees feel frustrated when their skills are not valued and used to good effect. Leaders are measured by their effectiveness.

I'll stop musing here. And I know I avoided the real question of "doess all leadership suck" by going along the "What are you saying by that anyway" route :)


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