We are certainly in trying times. It feels like a period where our country is crying out for leadership. And, sadly, leadership seems to have taken a vacation. Instead of working together to solve difficult and complex problems, our leaders are splitting apart and struggling to manage the status quo. For the first time in my adult life I’m worried for my country. I don’t say this lightly. I am a proud American and consider myself patriotic. I have strived to overlook ideological differences and pull up lever for the best person for the job (in my humble opinion) regardless of party affiliation. I’ve read numerous biographies and looked up to leaders from both sides of the political aisle. We are blessed we’ve had so many good leaders in our past. Right now, it feels like we are lost at sea without a captain. Never in my life have I seen such leadership incompetency across the board, and I don’t say that lightly.
We are currently living in the period of the Anti-Leader where everything we know and have come to expect from our leaders has been tossed out the window. This is unacceptable. I’ve decided to call it like I see it and draw a contrast between leadership and anti-leadership.
- A leader raises the personal behavior bar. An anti-leader lowers it.
- A leader unifies people who have differences of opinion. An anti-leader “divides and conquers” to suit their own purpose.
- A leader always puts the good of the organization over his or her own needs. An anti-leader instead puts his or her needs first above that of the organization.
- A leader strives to provide clarity. An anti-leader instead offers message confusion and communication disarray.
- A leader is open and transparent. An anti-leader releases information selectively and spins the truth, often with no regard for context.
- A leader’s words are straight forward and consistent with his or her actions. An anti-leader often speaks out of both sides of his or her mouth and their actions are often unpredictable.
- A leader is positive and proactive. An anti-leader is negative and reactive.
- A leader does his or her best to confront the brutal facts of reality and strives to act accordingly. An anti-leader regularly avoids difficult challenges until it’s too late and then casts blame on others.
- A leader inspires and rewards high performance. An anti-leader rewards loyalty over all else.
- A leader builds bridges and alliances with other people key to their leadership agenda. An anti-leader burns bridges and leaves a long list of enemies in his or her wake.
- A leader leans on and leverages subject matter experts especially on important matters. An anti-leader surrounds himself for herself with “yes” men or woman who toe the line above all else.
- A leader is well read and informed and prides themselves on their level of preparation. An anti-leader often wings it and as a result has strong ill-informed opinions.
- A leader is curious and in a constant learning mode. An anti-leader is incurious and has difficulty embracing new ideas or thoughts.
- A leader, whenever possible, strives to find common ground. An anti-leader goes through life with a win-lose mindset only. They feel that compromise is for losers.
- A leader leads by example. An anti-leader practices “do what I say not what I do.”
- A leader inspires and empowers others. An anti-leader denigrates, manipulates, and hinders them.
- A leader shares the credit and shoulders the blame. An anti-leader takes credit unfairly and casts blame equally unfairly.
- A leader makes people feel safe. An anti-leader makes people afraid and then preys on their worries.
- A leader is empathetic with the plight of other people. An anti-leader cares about others only when it suites their agenda and has difficulty offering even basic levels of emotional support.
- A leader admits when they’ve made a mistake and strives to learn from it. An anti-leader never admits mistakes (even when they are glaringly obvious) and often repeats them.
- A leader does his or her best to build a talented, stable, and consistent team around him or her. An anti-leader has more of revolving leadership team door and quickly repels talent.
- A leader embraces constructive conflict when it’s good for the organization and keeps it issue focused. An anti-leader creates conflict for the sake of conflict and often makes it personal.
- A leader deescalates unhealthy tension and anger. An anti-leader feeds on it and uses it to his or her advantage.
- A leader is thick skinned and doesn’t get easily triggered emotionally. An anti-leader is thin skinned as sees every criticism as a personal affront.
- A leader has strong values, principles, and convictions. An anti-leader is morally agnostic and ethically challenged and does whatever is necessary to advance their agenda.
- A leader is someone we’d like our children to look up to. An anti-leader is someone we have to constantly explain away their behavior to our kids.
I could probably write a book on this topic but will stop here. Feel free to add any comparisons of your own. I ask you to look inside yourself and make an assessment based on these traits and characteristics of who are the best people to lead our nation at all levels of government. I used to be proud during our election cycles. I knew the rest of the world used our nation as the standard for how a democracy should operate and transfer power. Even when my candidate didn’t win, I recovered quickly and trusted that the position and responsibility would bring out the best in the winner. I’m not sure that is the case anymore.
Ultimately, our government is just a reflection of us. Do you like what you see?
- The Anti-Leader: How Bad Leaders Get Everything Wrong (psychologytoday.com)
- Leadership and Anti-Leadership (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- What Makes a Great President? (capacity-building.com)
- We’ve Lost The Plot (capacity-building.com)
- Things Can Unravel Quickly (capacity-building.com)
- Leadership in War book excerpts (capacity-building.com)
- Lincoln on Leadership book excerpts (capacity-building.com)