Is Your Leadership Style Killing Your Organization?


Leadership drives everything we do. Great leaders take us into the future with their ability to see what’s not yet reality and inspire and motivate us to get there.  As a consultant who has worked with hundreds of  business and church leaders, I have noticed that often great leaders have to retool their own leadership or management style in order to continue to grow their organization. This leadership retooling is both painful and necessary. These are leadership styles that if you don’t grow beyond them will stop your organization from getting to the next level:

Is your leadership style killing your organization?

The Funnel. Everything needs to come through your desk. Nothing gets approved, financed or blessed unless you are involved. That’s a sure way to keep a good thing from growing. This usually happens because the leader doesn’t trust his or her team and feels that he’s the best person for the job– every job, that is.

The Albatross. You fly in, crap on everybody and fly out. Yep. I’ve worked for this guy before, and let me tell you, it’s no way to lead an organization. Everyone is always on alert because, at any moment, you might go off and tell the entire team what a bunch of losers they are. Your team lives in fear long enough to find another job or begin drinking hard liquor, at lunch time, on church premises.

Mr. Happy Talk. You’re the opposite of the Albatross, but equally ineffective. You just want to love your team into doing their jobs and hate to see conflict, so you do a lot of happy talk with very little or no real deadlines and assigned responsibilities. The low performing staff members love you, but you’ll frustrate the the high-capacity, high-performance team members who want to get beyond the status quo.

The Dictator. You give your staff freedom to accomplish a task just the way you instructed them. And everyone is allowed their opinion as long as it’s the same as yours. You’ll surround yourself with “doers” but the “thinkers” will not work for you long.

Mr. Paradox. Do as I say and not as I do. You often say one thing and end up doing another. You are prone to “forget” promises or agreed upon courses of actions. Your team will lose trust in you and realize that you’re not on their corner. There’s only one corner and that’s yours.

Look Shiny! You implement change faster than it takes the cast of The Jersey Shore to get drunk on one of their shows. But halfway through your plan, you come up a new shiny idea, so you chase that for a while only to see another opportunity and. . . you get the point.  You wear everyone out and nothing ever gets done well, since no plan is fully executed.

Have I missed any leadership type? What’s the best and/or worst leader you’ve worked for?

  • Haha. This is great and true. Worst part is when you have leaders that are combination of the above. I know many who are The Funnel, The Mr. Happy Talk and the Look Shiny! all rolled into one. Scary.

    • You just gave me an idea. I can actually create a test to see how much of each of these leadership styles you have in you and then score and help people through their issues. Brilliant!

  • Robert

    That's a great post. I must say Mr. Happy Talk resonates a lot with me right now. We do a lot of talking in my current position but not much gets accomplished. You're right, it's very frustrating to want to move forward but not have clear direction. Basically the loudest complainer gets to rule the day.

    • Unfortunately, Mr. Happy makes a lot of people unhappy with his inability to lead through difficult decisions and the organization suffers the most.

  • Lori

    I worked for a Dictator once. It was his way or the highway all the way. Funny how some people loved that environment. Their first question was always "how high" after he asked them to jump.

    • I see a lot of that in my work when leaders inherit a staff of a former dictator and wants them to take ownership of their work unsuccessfully. It's like watching a bunch of fish out of water. They gasp for air and flop around until they can find another job where someone can tell them exactly what to do.

  • Suzanne Franks

    Great post. After the diagnostic, then comes the positive counter-examples of leadership styles. I think you are onto something here. Check out some human resource management materials to make sure you are not reinventing the wheel. Or at least draw from other people's experience, add you own insights, and apply them to the contexts where you consult. Boom, you've got a potential best seller. This is exciting stuff!

  • Funnel and Albatross is a deadly combination. The Status Quo is a good one. Thanks for commenting.

  • I like the way you think, Suzanne

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