Learning from Bad Leaders

We delight in great leaders. But it is in the crucible of extreme challenge under bad leaders that we can learn the once-in-a-lifetime lessons.

Learning is usually more effective under great leaders. I don’t need a bad one to learn. Especially if I have already learned a particular lesson in the past. But in work, as in life, adversity has special lessons for us.

So if I was under a bad leader, I would approach it as I would operate under adversity. Other than finding the best way to weather the difficulties and survive through it (I don’t like pain so I will always seek to reduce, escape or eliminate it!), I will ask what ‘nuggets of wisdom’, knowledge and skill can I derive from this experience.

  • What is my leader good at? How can I learn from the best that he can offer?
  • What can I learn from this situation?
    If the leader is a command-and-control person, what can I do to respond and manage the situation, so I can negotiate then deliver my commitments?
  • What skills can I exercise that I have not exercised as much in the past?
    Influencing your leader who treats you as a trusted advisor does not exercise the same influencing muscles as when the leader is less trusting or difficult to interact with.
  • What can I change in me that would make me a better person, even under these strenuous circumstances?
    Are there thought patterns that block my approach to this problem?

Find the lessons that you can  learn from such a difficult situation. You may not always have this opportunity to be ‘sharpened’!

Check out this blog by Michael Hyatt on 15 lessons you can learn from a bad leader. To his list of 15, I would like to add:  “Be consistent. When you have to deviate from your usual approach, explain why so that you will not confuse or erode the trust of others.”

Do you have other lessons you can share?


What do you think about this? I would like to hear from you.

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