You will not believe what I found while strolling around the leadership blogosphere. I actually found a top 25 list of the worst bosses of 2009. I’m not naive, I know these people exist. I know that we are surrounded by far more bad leadership examples than good ones. Unfortunately, I also know something else: we learn by example.
Curious, I looked further. The publishers of this terrifying list have a Facebook page. And a hugely strong Twitter presence. In fact, they have over 8,000 followers on Twitter and almost 400 folks that “like” them on Facebook, meaning that a requirement exists to highlight and share examples of sickeningly ineffective leaders. If you take the time to review these sites, you’ll see something somewhat disturbing: there is no lack of material for them to publish.
eBossWatch’s list is extensive and includes everything from garden variety harassment to felonies. Some highlights from the list?
- One super-genius was sued for workplace bullying and disability discrimination by a former soldier who received a Purple Heart and who lost his hand and suffered other serious injuries in an explosion while serving in Iraq. Great example, don’t you think?
- One so-called leader’s employees recorded a four hour meeting that took place late last year where our “hero” used hundreds of obscenities and ordered one of the supervisors to physically attack an equipment operator. Imagine running across that in the boardroom?
- One former city manager was fired in April after only 18 months on the job after creating what City Council members called “a culture of fear” that included publicly embarrassing several employees. While a “culture of fear” seems vague and nebulous, can we agree that it’s not a good thing?
After the requisite 20 minutes of processing time, I found myself wondering what these characters all had in common. It isn’t that they are stupid – that’s too easy and doesn’t account for the fact that they were able to find themselves in these positions – after all, one of them directed NASA… The answer I arrived at? They all lack emotional intelligence. EQ, as it’s known, is critical to leadership success because it allows us to interact appropriately with other people. An example: consider Sheldon in this video clip from the The Big Bang Theory; he’s really bright but not so good with people.
Here are some of the traits of the emotionally intelligent leader (drawn from Daniel Goleman’s mixed model of EQ):
- Self-awareness. This involves recognizing your own emotions and the impact they can have on your decision-making process. Ties into “listening to your gut”
- Self-management. Once aware of your emotions, the next step is to control them. This step is critical in the face of changing circumstances; after all if you’re anything like me, you might not always be getting your own way…
- Social awareness. This refers to empathy, or understanding of the feelings and emotions of those around you and comprehension of how they all tie into the social framework. This category is at the heart of people skills
- Relationship management. This refers to our ability to create and manage interpersonal relationships, inspire others, influence groups, and act as mentors to develop people.
Now, armed with my almost criminal over-simplification of the vast body of work that’s been done on emotional intelligence, have another look at eBossWatch’s dreaded list. See what I mean? These people are all missing something and I think we know what it is.
Do you have an example of a really good leader who has these traits? How about a really poor one who doesn’t? C’mon, tell us a story…