Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Some Principles of Leadership

I've had some bad bosses. And some good ones, too.

But the ones who were bad were just awful. I had one who was caught getting a BJ from a woman he had hired - and he was married. The MBA/boss (worthless degree) covered up for him, but still, about three years after he was caught, he was removed - for just general incompetence.

I told the MBA who had hired him: if you didn't fire him on the spot for what he did, then how can you morally fire anyone, unless they're caught screwing a sheep in the hall? He said nothing.

The guy in question was incompetent - one of the worst I've seen. Yet it took years to remove him, because his boss supported him. The big guns from out of state had to intervene and get rid of him.

So the first thing I would suggest for a good leader is that:

1). He be competent at his job. If he is incompetent at his job, his employees will not respect him, they will sabotage him every chance they can get, they will walk off the the job after sabotaging what they can, they will leave and take business with them. I have seen this more than once.

2). Humility. These days, many people don't understand what that means. The ancient Greeks used the word "Sophrosyne," which means to know your limitations. It's the opposite of Hubris, which is overwhelming arrogance...such as believing you can engage in sexual activity on company property and think you can get away with it (and this guy was arrogant - arrogant and incompetent).

Actually, probably the worst thing you can be is incompetent and arrogant...and be unaware of both.

3). Listen to your employees. They do the work, not you. I have never seen any boss ask his employees for their input - and then they're amazed when allofasudden they lose truckloads of money, go out of business, or lose a very important employee.

4). Don't micromanage. In other words, don't intrude on your employees' jobs. I've had jobs where my bosses didn't know my job and yet tried to make me do things their way - and they had no clue their way was wrong. Such people are actually violating your boundaries, but don't have a clue they are doing it.

5.) Don't pay much attention to degrees and instead develop the potential of your employees.

Some degrees are worthless - the aforementioned MBAs. I'm a believer in hiring people, having them start at the bottom, and working their way up. I know a guy who started out as a truck driver at the company and now he leads it. I'll listen to him before I listen to someone transferred in from out of state because he has an MBA from Harvard or Yale (and I have worked for these nitwits).

In other words, teach them mastery of their jobs.

6.) You get what you pay for. I have seen people walking off the jobs, sabotaging everything in sight, suing, steaing and blowing up and getting into fights with other employees...and nearly every bit of it was because they didn't feel appreciated and respected - and that includes not being paid what they're worth (don't give me any nonsense about supply-and-demand - it hardly exists anymore when it comes to a job, because companies can privatize the benefits and socialize the costs, so they underpay their employees and foist their costs onto the taxpayer).

When it comes right down to it, I'd say it's the conflict between Hubris and Sophrosyne - between treating your employees as things to be exploited, and between treating them with the respect and appreciation they deserve.


Glen Filthie said...

Bob it starts at the top. Today's middle manager gets it up the hooper from the clowns below AND the ones above. Cripes, I would screw goats too if I had it that bad. It is so bad that I flat out refuse to do it! Nor will I be 'managed' either. Leave me alone, I know how to do my job and if I need the boss's help I'll call.

In practice, I DO lead after a fashion. I emulate and advocate the methods espoused by military leaders like Stormin' Norman, Lee Ermey and a few others. Those guys know the business and in point of fact, couldn't function in most dysfunctional corporations today.

A great book for developing an appreciation for leadership qualities is "Backbone" by Julia Dye - it uses cases of great leaders of the USMC to illustrate the qualities required like courage, humility, justice, loyalty, etc. Her writing style on the subject reads much like yours.

The truth of it is you can't be a good leader without good people or good tools - and they are increasingly difficult to come by in declining North America.

Unknown said...

That reminds me of a friend's late father, who told that during WWII the sergeants (the lifers) were the ones that mattered, not a bunch of green officers.

Wyowanderer said...

I lead a team of 11, and I'm successful because I do just what this post suggests.
Recently, one of my team members brought me a poster. On it were two examples: one of a "boss", who was yelling at the employees to pull a load, and below it a picture of a leader, who was helping to do the work by leading. It was very instructive.