As a business leader, I find inspiration in those who demonstrate strength, creativity, honesty and innovation. I look to great leaders from our past, innovative leaders of today, and up-and-coming leaders who will offer a fresh perspective tomorrow. Certainly, this is not an uncommon approach. Many have done this before, and many more will do so again. What is less common is finding inspiration in the leaders who fail - and fail spectacularly.
But that's exactly what my team at Potential Squared have done. Over the years, we've found that failed leaders can be an invaluable source of information on what NOT to do. We've also noticed that these leaders share far too many traits, which successfully undermine their position and future.
Here are just a few to emulate if you want to fail as a leader:
1. Run a dysfunctional team
One of the most sure-fire ways to fail as a leader is to run a dysfunctional team. As outlined in the Forbes article, 'Ways To Turn Around a Dysfunctional Team', Eric Jackson states that an inherited dysfunctional team can be turned around in ten simple steps. These steps should be disregarded. Non-performers should remain in their roles, meetings should consistently run late and progress should seldom be documented. As the saying goes, 'a poor workman blames his tools', and when it comes to leadership, there's only one person accountable for a dysfunctional team. Take credit where it's due.
2. Be resistant to change
Remember that the best way to proceed is not to proceed at all. As Winston Churchill said, 'those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it'. So repeat it with aplomb. When digital editions of daily newspapers became the norm, tales emerged from meetings with editors who point-blank refused to assign any budget to the 'fad'. When social media took off, weaker leaders refused to get involved. When the next new trend emerges, promising to change the world of business as you know it, resist. Embrace your stubborn refusal to adapt rather than change with the times.
3. Be too busy to be observant
In a digital world of information overload, remain blissfully unaware of the small details that make up the bigger picture. The Four Seasons was the first hotel to put miniature toiletries in its hotel bathrooms, and in that way set the precedent for 'the little things' in the hotel industry. But so what? As a leader hell-bent on failure, you will have no time to bother yourself with the finer details, no matter how beneficial their impact over the long-term.
4. Make sure everyone on your team is just like you
In busy spells, we've probably all wished that we could clone ourselves to share the workload. You should try to do just that. One of the best ways to fail as a leader is to recruit in your own image. After all, a team of people with the same mind-set are sure to be challenged and ultimately ineffective, resulting in a company devoid of different characters, strengths, opinions and solutions.
5. Never share praise or ideas
People want praise. And leaders poised to fail want praise above all others. If you are truly at the helm of a great team, it's no matter that your success will inevitably be praised - you will want to be noticed here and now. While you're at it, keep your good ideas to yourself. Ignore the fact that successful leaders are open to having their idea scrutinised in order to improve, collaborate and expand - because you know better.
To set yourself up for a spectacular fall, close your mind off to the opinions of others, take credit where credit isn't always due and above all, embrace fear rather than change.
For more leadership strategies, including how to succeed as a leader, visit us online.