A Master Class in How NOT To Lead

There are lots of ways NOT to lead. Most leaders discover them over a period of time. The best leaders actually learn from the mistakes of others and don’t make repeat them on their watch. 

But every now and then we see a “leader” make every possible leadership mistake all at once, or at least in a very short period of time. 

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Mr. Elon Musk. 

The mistakes are too numerous to mention on a short blog like this. It’s also very possible this post gets me kicked off Twitter, Mr. Musk’s new toy, permanently. 

Which brings me to mistake number one. Being so thin skinned that you do not allow a single word of dissent. Authentic Leaders seek out information that can help their people and the organization do better. They even seek out information they don’t want to hear. In fact, that may be the most useful information. They do not seek revenge or retribution against those who offer an opinion. No matter how much they may disagree with that opinion. 

Authentic Leaders consider the consequences of the consequences of the consequences. They know that every action will create a reaction and that those reactions often cause a series of reactions. They think through their decisions and ALL the implications. 

Authentic Leaders work off a plan. They know that no plan is perfect but the act of planning is. They thoughtfully consider goals and objectives. AND the most efficient path to those objectives. That planning provides many “fall back” scenarios when the plan gets off track, as they almost always do. When you see a major decision made and implemented at 11:00am, then rescinded at 1:00pm only to be reimplemented at 2:00pm you have to wonder exactly what the plan looks like. You may even begin to think there is no plan at all. 

Authentic Leaders know that first and foremost leadership is about people. They understand the implications their decisions can have on their people.  They work to minimize any negative impacts those decisions may create. They would never ask their people to swear allegiance to them. Or commit to working hours that make it impossible for them to have a life outside of work. 

Leaders must understand that a balanced employee is a productive employee. Authentic Leaders work to ensure their people have a decent work/life balance. They understand that creativity, dedication and commitment cannot be obtained without it. 

I know a couple of people who work for Twitter and what I hear from them is NOT good. Every, I know every is a very big word so I use it carefully but virtually EVERY leadership principle I know has been thrown aside by Mr. Musk. He’s a smart man, he can put them back in place but only if he’s serious about his $44 billion dollar investment. Or perhaps that’s where I’m wrong, it wasn’t an investment at all. 

Perhaps it’s just a plaything that destroys the livelihood of the thousands of people who built Twitter into what it was. And yes, I of all people know it was not perfect. I’ve been regularly censored there and had tweets mysteriously disappear. 

But this is about leadership. Leadership is about people. People matter. Poor business practices can be fixed without burning down the business with the people still inside. 

Years from now Business Schools will still be using Twitter in case studies. They will look at how bad an acquisition can turn out when the acquiring leadership team has no plan. No long range vision,  and no understanding that it’s the people who are the most important part of the acquisition. 

Twitter appears to be stuck in the quagmire of the quantity of their decisions. Hopefully they can pull themselves into a place where the quality of their decisions become more important than the quantity. 

4 thoughts on “A Master Class in How NOT To Lead

  1. Everyone is entitiled to their own opinion! That means I do not have to agree with it and Mr. Musk does not have to agree with it eithder! If you want to do it yourway, get the money and buy Twitter from Musk! For me, I find that I am able to enjoy freedom opf Speech since Musk took ovzer the site! In other words get the hell off my page!!!

    1. I’d encourage you to reread the post. This is not about Twitter, it is about treating people with dignity and respect. That’s the foundation of Authentic Leadership. If YOUR way is abusing people you may have a lot of money but you are a very poor person.

  2. Some of the most important lessons I’ve learned are: never take anything personal, even if it is. Never make an organizational decision with retribution in mind. Remember that not all decisions have to be made immediately. Often a cooling off period is helpful.

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