How to Lead and How Not to Lead – one more in a periodic series

Communication is way overrated. At least for people who don’t want to be considered leaders. If you fall into that category then it’s important that you keep in mind the basics of poor communication. 

First, communicate in a fashion that you understand. If other people “don’t get it” that’s their problem not yours. Give the people you’re supposed to be leading your directions and let that be that. As someone practicing the philosophy of not leading you know that it’s up to your people to know what you mean. That’s true no matter how crappy the directions you give might be.

Never ever allow people to ask questions, say, “I told you what to do, now go do it.” You can even throw in an occasional, “or I’ll find somebody who can” comment at the end. It’s possible that some of your people may even have some ideas of their own. In worst case scenarios they may even try to share some of those with you. 

It is imperative that you shut those down immediately. As someone deciding to not lead, you’re all about getting things done. Not necessarily getting the right things done the right way, just getting something done quick. Whether or not it adds value in any way is not the concern of someone like you. That stuff is for an actual leader. 

When your people come back with concerns about something not working you must send them packing ASAP. Order them to follow your poor directions. If is doesn’t work out it’s not gonna be your problem. You have already decided who you’ll be throwing under the bus when things go bad. 

When communicating with the people you’re supposed to be leading always be as vague as possible. You don’t want to get yourself pinned down with facts and statistics. Use as many “waffle words” as possible, words like “probably” and “maybe” are always good. As you advance into your crummy leader career you could begin to use “waffle phrases” like “could be” and “maybe yes and maybe no.” Those are particularly effective at confusing people. 

When communicating in writeing remember that typoes and misspellling can be your friend. People tend to focues on those and miss the entirely message. Don’t forget, spell checks and proper grammar is both for actual leaderers, you don’t need to mess with them details. 

Or…you could choose to Authentically Lead. That’s actually easier. All you need to do is consider who you are communicating with. You also need to consider what message you want to convey. 

Once you’ve said what you wanted to say then ask a couple of questions to make certain what you said and what was heard are in complete alignment. 

Ask also if there are any questions from the person or people you’re communicating with. Solicit input and ideas. LISTEN to what your people are telling you. Adjust your communication accordingly. 

Authentic Leaders know that one of the biggest mistakes they can make is assuming that actual communication has taken place. As an Authentic Leader you know that even if you believe your message was clearly stated, how it was received is what truly matters.

The most effective leaders are exceptional communicators. They accept 100% of the responsibility for the effectiveness of all of their communications. They adjust their communication to their people and never expect their people to adjust to them. 

They are even more careful with their written communication. They know that “tone” is easily misconstrued so they choose their words carefully and with consideration for how they will “sound.” 

As always, if you’re in a leadership position it’s your choice as to whether or not you choose to actually lead. Understand if you choose to not lead, you’ll be the one responsible for the vast majority of issues, problems and failures within your organization. 

You can choose to lead and avoid almost all of that. 

So… what you gonna choose?

5 thoughts on “How to Lead and How Not to Lead – one more in a periodic series

  1. I don’t know if I should laugh or cry on this one. I know someone I worked with just like the description of the dark side of communication. It got to the point that his people would come to him with a tape recorder just so they could play back to him what he actually said when things went wrong.

    1. Ha, recording the conversation is actually a great idea…but I’d bet the “boss” would still deny saying it. It’s one of the things that make those “non leader” leaders so frustrating to work for…they never let the facts get in the way of doing whatever the heck it is they want to do.

Leave a Reply