Unquintessential leadership is everywhere. Very few people in leadership positions even know, much less understand what quintessential leadership is. 

When we trace back and see how and when these unquintessential leaders were placed in leadership positions, we often find that the people who selected them were also unquintessential leaders and taught and mirrored the unquintessential leadership traits these people now exhibit. We also find that in most cases politics, personality, and a very limited criteria for selection – often superficial or technical – was applied.

The results of unquintessential leadership are reflected in the teams they are supposed to be leading. These results are devastating: to the teams and to the organizations these teams exist in. And yet the unquintessential leaders are oblivious to their responsibility for the carnage they – to a person, among unquintessential leaders, if there is a problem, it’s always the fault of others (“they turned on me,” “they were unmanageable,” “they were not team players,” etc.) leave in their wakes.

Unquintessential leadership, like quintessential leadership, has cause-and-effect results.

exaggerated sense of self-importance narcissism leadershipOne thing that is common and an overarching characteristic of unquintessential leaders is their own exaggerated sense of self-importance. This manifests itself in both subtle ways and obvious ways, but it’s always at the core of what unquintessential leaders do. Or don’t do.

An exaggerated sense of one’s own important is one of the most dangerous character traits a human being can have. It produces pride, arrogance, disdain, control, and the denigration of everyone and everything around it. It produces disaster and is one of the biggest enemies to what successful team-building looks like (cohesion, productivity, satisfaction, progress, growth, and profitability).

Let’s look at some of the specific characteristics that unquintessential leaders exhibit because of their exaggerated senses of their own importance and what the effects of those are, not only on their teams, but on their organizations – and beyond (if an organization is malfunctioning from within, then it is completely impotent and ineffective outside itself).

Unquintessential leaders are micromanagers. Not even the smallest detail can be attended to or decision can be made without their approval. The irony is that unquintessential leaders excel at minutiae, but they are either incapable or unwilling – or both – of handling the big picture and making big and/or tough decisions.

The effect on their teams is that their teams disengage completely and quit, either symbolically or literally. Oh the people may show up, but they are not there. Why bother? Human beings were given reason, creativity, initiative, and a need to produce, to grow, to reach their greatest potentials. When all of that is stifled or eradicated by micromanagement – which is really a lack of trust – a shell exists, but everything else dies. 

Team members who don’t yet have other options to go to will stay, but they are not there. Team members who have other options leave as soon as they’re able to pursue the new options.

Organizations with high attrition rates always have serious micromanagement problems, which, in turn, means they have a lot of unquintessential leaders in place.

quintessential leaders have a compassUnquintessential leaders try to control, through intimidation, threats, manipulation, coercion, and, sometimes, brute force, their teams. They insert themselves into every aspect of their team members’ lives, both inside and outside the organizational context, and try to wield power over each and every outcome.

The primary effect of this on their teams is resistance. No human being has absolute control over another human being. When this kind of control is exerted among human beings, resistance is the natural result. Interestingly, the net effect of this is the same as that of micromanagement: the team quits, internally and/or externally.

What defies logic for me is that often unquintessential leaders recognize that their teams have quit. When they do, unquintessential leaders then micromanage and try to control even more. It’s absolutely absurd. But I’ve seen it happen over and over.

Unquintessential leaders are inconsistent and unreliable. There is absolutely nothing about them that their teams can count on except that they will be inconsistent and unreliable.

The next effect of this is that their teams have no trust in the unquintessential leaders and the unquintessential leaders have proven themselves untrustworthy.

What eventually happens is that their teams end up bypassing them completely and going to others outside the team construct who’ve proven themselves to be quintessential leaders. Unquintessential leaders get angry about this, but their exaggerated senses of self-importance blind them to the fact that their actions have necessitated that their teams go elsewhere for what they need and require.

Unquintessential leaders are never available for their teams when they need them. They’re either too busy, physically absent, or simply unwilling to put the needs of their teams above their own needs and desires. You can never find them when you really need them.

The effect on their teams is disillusionment, anger, and resentment. The disillusionment, anger, and resentment starts building underneath the surface of their teams, but as this particular characteristic is repeated, that anger and resentment is palpable and evident throughout the team. It becomes something you can discern on a very tangible level in words, in body language, in attitudes. It’s an incredibly destructive force.

These are some of the more obvious results of unquintessential leadership (Qualities of Quintessential Leaders offers a stark and refreshing contrast of some of the results of quintessential leadership).

quintessential leaders changeToday’s question for you and me is simple. Am I an unquintessential leader or am I a quintessential leader?

As always, this is a look-in-the-mirror question for you and for me that requires close examination, brutal honesty, and if you and I are not quintessential leaders, immediate steps to change.

I am brave enough to look in that mirror and do the work of looking and changing. Will you join me?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments
  1. […] while Dan Rockwell’s post doesn’t explore the depths of the differences between unquintessential leaders and quintessential leaders, this list is a very good […]

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