Tag Archive for manager

Leader or Leech? 5 Ways to Tell.



Some “leaders” are just flat-out leeches.

Kind of a gross mental picture, to be sure; but given that this type of leader can suck the very lifeblood out of an organization, it seems apropos.

You can tell a lot about leaders by how they treat an organization. Is the organization there for their benefit? Or are the leaders there to serve the organization? There’s a huge difference, and it’s pretty easy to tell the difference if you look hard enough.

Here are five ways to pick out a leech who’s masquerading as a leader.

1. Leeches use their organizations simply as vehicles to attract the spotlight for themselves.

Is the organization just a platform for the leader to trumpet his/her accomplishments? (Quick FYI: I wrote the post I just linked to in the last sentence two years ago…well before somebody’s foray into politics.) It’ll be easy to tell, because these leaders are often fairly obvious in their attempts to do what it takes to be in the spotlight. Believe it or not, these leaders may even say out loud that they want the accolades from others.

2. Leeches fight for their own salary increases and perks harder than they do for anyone else’s (if they fight for anyone else’s at all).

Now don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying there’s not a place for folks to make a case for why they deserve a salary increase. I’m not saying that at all. But I do think it’s pretty telling if the only person that a leader goes to bat for as it relates to a salary increase is the leader him/herself. Leeches spend an inordinate amount of time obsessing over their salary, complain about their salary to anyone who will listen, and are rarely not trying to figure out a way to get more money out of their organization. Do they extend that same effort to their teammates? Do they go to great lengths to see other hard-working colleagues rewarded in similar ways? No.

3. Leeches receive more of their praise from people outside the team or organization than the people who actually have to work for them.

Now think about this. What does it tell us if a hypothetical leader gets accolades, but most, if not all, of those accolades come from folks outside the organization? Wouldn’t it be a better sign if people inside the organization — and especially that leader’s team — were the ones raving about that leader’s leadership? If that’s not the case — if the only recognition that a leader gets is coming from outside the organization — might that not hint at the possibility that the only folks who think the leader is good are the ones who don’t actually experience his/her leadership? Hmmm…

4. When listening to leeches talk, they often talk about what more the organization should be doing for them in the way of perks, higher pay, travel, etc. Rarely, if ever, do you hear them commenting on or asking others how they can better learn, grow, and serve the organization and its employees.

This is a clear indicator of an immature, selfish, narcissistic mindset. Contrast that with examples of great leadership, where you often see leaders more concerned with embracing humility and serving others. I think we both know which one is ultimately going to be more successful.

5. Leeches are more concerned with controlling their team than serving them.

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. It’s also typically pretty obvious. Leaders who control are just using the team and the organization to get what they want, and these leaders are often not afraid to use manipulative or even abusive means to do so (though these leaders will almost always do these things in such a way that it avoids detection, and they will certainly be ready to rationalize away any issues that happen to bubble up concerning their leadership).

I used the leech analogy on purpose. Someone in a leadership role who is displaying these tendencies is very much like a leech, sucking the lifeblood out of an organization and definitely out of any team that reports to such a leader.

Did I miss any other evidences of the leech leader? Let me know in the comments.

You Can Make the World a Better Place


What if you — yes, you — could make the world a better place?

People all over the place talk about wanting to do that. They descend into an existential funk trying to figure out how they can do that. But guess what? There’s an answer.

If you’re a leader, you can do your part to make the world a better place by making your workplace a better place to work.

Reject ego.

Reject the lure of power and prestige.

Reject orienting your life around seeking the spotlight.

Roll up your sleeves, embrace humility, lead by serving, and cultivate a healthy culture for your team.

You have no idea the impact you could have.

Are you in?

The Necessity of Accountability



Depending on your experiences and philosophical perspective, that word can conjure a wide variety of feelings, many of which seem similar to that feeling you got in the pit of your stomach when your mom told you to go wait in your room for your dad to get home. However, most of us would likely agree that accountability, at least in some vague, general sense, is a necessary component of healthy teams and organizations.

But here’s the thing. Accountability, rightly understood, is a shared thing between two or more people. It’s not a one-way street. In other words, it is two or more folks holding each other accountable to uphold shared values and/or performance expectations. That sort of accountability can have an amazing and positive impact on a team because it builds trust, promotes healthy conflict, and so on.

Unfortunately, though, accountability is not always thought of in this way. This is an issue that plagues many organizations, often the higher you go on the org chart. Leadership positions, up to and certainly including the CEO, need to have real accountability in place. When leaders don’t have real accountability, they are able to essentially do whatever they’d like. And that can get ugly in a hurry.

Imagine a boss who has limited real accountability, and on top of that has a narcissistic personality, is emotionally abusive, and possesses a nearly non-existent moral compass. That boss will likely terrorize those who work for him or her, because what’s to stop him or her? It’s a recipe for disaster.

How do you know there might be a lack of real accountability? Ask yourself the following questions.

What happens when someone raises concerns about a manager, executive, or CEO? Do they end up being victimized as a result of speaking up? 

Are legitimate and concrete corrective actions put in place for managers up to and including the CEO, or are issues routinely swept under the rug and/or rationalized away?

When managers up to and including the CEO see regular turnover on their teams, are the reasons for that turnover really explored? Or are leaders able to simply shrug and chalk it up to what they might call “bad” employees?

Do managers up to and including the CEO insist on accountability for everyone, but then avoid it at all costs themselves? 

Are managers up to and including the CEO able to routinely talk their way out of any potential issues? 

When’s the last time managers up to and including the CEO took full and complete responsibility for things going wrong on their teams? Or is it typically an exercise in deflection and rationalization?

A lack of real accountability usually has a destructive impact on teams and organizations, and the longer bad bosses are allowed to function without real accountability, the longer the organization will suffer the consequences.