Posts Tagged ‘destructive’

theodore roosevelt criticism leadership“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
Theodore Roosevelt

I saw the excerpt quoted above early yesterday morning. It resonated with me strongly because it reflects who and what I am striving to become as a person, as a writer, and as a quintessential leader. Those, ultimately, are not three different roles or personas, but instead an integrated whole person who is and does the same right things all the time in every part of my life.

I wanted to see the context in which these words were spoken, so I found and read the entire 1910 speech given by President Theodore Roosevelt entitled “Citizenship in a Republic.” It’s well worth a close reading and an even-closer thoughtful reflection upon.

There’s an old adage that “everyone’s a critic.” To some extent that’s true. (more…)

Are a lot of the people you know – and answer to on the job – in leadership positions psychopaths? Are you a psychopath in a leadership position? Am I? Tough questions for us personally to answer, but not very tough to answer if we’ve worked with psychopaths.

I have worked with several in my career. Each one had a different personality and temperament, but they all shared the same destructive traits of psychopaths.

There seems to be a disproportionate number of psychopaths, compared to the general population, who end up in leadership positions. In “Sometimes the boss really is a psycho,” one researcher found that about 4% of the 203 executives he studied were psychopaths, while psychopaths make up only about 1% of the general population.

Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears PradaWhen I think of the epitome of a psychopathic person in a leadership position, I think of Meryl Streep’s character, Miranda Priestly, in The Devil Wears Prada.

Some of the characteristics of psychopaths in leadership positions include:

  • Skillful and continual manipulation – bullying, threatening, and intimidating subordinates and charming, flattering, and fawning over superiors – of everyone in the organization
  • Over-inflated ego and sense of self-importance
  • Pathological lying
  • Absence of a sense of right and wrong
  • Absence of remorse and regret
  • Absence of empathy and sympathy
  • Toxicity

liam neeson oskar schindler schindler's listWhen I think of the opposite of Miranda Priestly, sticking with the movies here, I think of Oskar Schindler, portrayed by Liam Neeson in Schindler’s List.

Some of the characteristics of real leaders are:

  • Trustworthiness in everything
  • Strong convictions about right and wrong
  • Willingness to do whatever it takes to do the right thing, regardless of personal or professional cost
  • Humility
  • Strong sense of empathy and sympathy
  • Fairness with everyone

Have you worked with a psychopath in a leadership position? How did it affect you and the organization? What characteristics can you add to the list of psychopath traits as something we all need to be aware of?

Have you worked with a real leader? How did it affect you and the organization? What characteristics did he or she have that you learned and can add to the list of characteristics of real leaders?

Your turn.

Today’s post will discuss the mindset of unquintessential leadership and how that mindset gets expressed in actions and words. As quintessential leaders, it’s important that we are reminded from time to time of what quintessential leadership is not, so we can examine our own mindsets (attitudes and motivations) and words and actions to ensure that we’re not letting unquissential leadership creep in.

The reality is that there are far more unquintessential leadership examples around us than quintessential leadership examples.

Most of the people in leadership positions today have a mixture of the two, with more of an unquintessial leadership mindset than a quintessential leadership mindset.

This creates confusion and an atmosphere of constant uncertainty because we never know which to expect under any given circumstance. This mixture engenders continual instability and a pervasive lack of trust.

However, there are some people in leadership positions who have purely unquintessential leadership mindsets (with no quintessential leadership in their mindsets at all). We can readily spot them because their words and actions – indeed, the very core of who they are – ooze with the characteristics of the unquintessential leader mindset.

I always suspect mental illness(es) in these cases because, in general, we humans who are sane – more or less – tend to be, regrettably, a mixture of good and bad, but someone who exhibits nothing but unquintessential leadership has nothing good in his or her thinking, actions, and words. It simply cannot be found.

So let’s take a look at the major characteristics of the unquintessential leadership mindset and what each of them look like in action.

It is ALWAYS all about METhe first is pride and arrogance. The unquintessential leadership mindset is primarily narcissistic, so for the person who has this mindset everything is always all about them. What does this look like in action?

Constant self-promotion and exaggeration of importance, position and status in words and actions is one way this pride and arrogance manifests itself. No one is better, brighter, or more right.

This mindset is one of being superior to and more special than everyone else. The world – no, make that the universe – revolves around the unquintessential leader.

Nothing and no one else matters except for him or her and anyone who doesn’t realize that is the object of the unquintessential leader’s derision and condemnation.

Unquintessential leaders are, in short, legends in their own minds.

Another characteristic of the unquintessential leadership mindset is the need to control everything and everybody. What does this look like in practice?

Absolutely no challenge to the authority, authenticity, correctness, and thoughts, ideas, opinions, and edicts – because that’s what unquintessential leaders issue – is tolerated or allowed. Absolute and complete loyalty to the unquintessential leader is demanded and tested routinely. Action to squelch and remove real or perceived challenges on any of these fronts is swift and brutal.

Threats and intimidation (bullying) are another characteristic of the mindset of unquintessential leadership. This characteristic in action is a constant barrage of harassment and haranguing. An atmosphere of fear is created by the continual reminders that those under unquintessential leadership have tenuous positions and one “wrong” word or move will result in their eliminations and expulsions.

Language is the primary weapon in this characteristic, with repetition on a constant basis of what the negative consequences are that the unquissential leader holds over the heads of those cross him or her.

Manipulation is another characteristic of the unquintessential leadership mindset. Manipulation is accomplished by spin doctoring everything to make everything support what the unquintessential leader believes about him or herself.

Its effectiveness depends on a lack of critical thinking, fear, and the everpresent specter of punishment. It can be quite effective with people who either can’t, won’t, and don’t know how to think for themselves.

This is one of the most subtle characteristics, and, therefore, in my opinion, one of the most dangerous.

Another characteristic of the unquintessential leadership is the creation and maintenance of an atmosphere of suspicion and war anywhere the unquintessential leader is able to. What does this look like?

There are constant words and actions that pit people against each other, creating first suspicion, then war among those people. Unquintessential leaders will constantly find targets to attack personally and set up for everyone else to attack.

This tends to be the way unquintessential leaders get rid of people who challenge them, who disagree with them, who call them out when they are being unquintessential leaders.

Because of all the characteristics of the unquintessential leader mindset, the inability to handle the truth (for an unquintessential leader, the only truth that exists is the truth as he or she has constructed it) is universally the one that usually becomes the most obvious early on because anyone who confronts the unquintessential leader is quickly – and usually very publicly and visibly as a warning to everyone else – hunted down, forced out, and completely destroyed, if possible.

People can usually hide the other characteristics for quite some time, but not being able to face or admit the truth is almost impossible to ever hide.

As quintessential leaders, it is imperative that we are constantly examining our mindsets – our motives, our attitudes, our words, our actions, who we are – to ensure that we are not letting these characteristics of the unquintessential leadership mindset to come in and become part of us and how we lead.

This is the battle we all fight constantly, but it is a battle we must never abandon and a battle we must win. For ourselves and for our teams in every area of our lives. 

Yes. It’s that important.