Are there some spineless people around who become leaders, but shouldn’t have done? Yep. I think there are, and we’ve probably all met a few in our time.
This is an interesting Forbes magazine article written by Joseph Folkman (of Zenger Folkman), highlighting the awful impacts on people and the organisation of irresponsible leaders;
In mitigation (occasionally) for some of the spineless bosses out there, they are sometimes the product of the organisation – the company gets the bosses it deserves. However, if you find yourself in such a situation, probably better to not just be thinking about a change of boss, but a change of company!
Years ago, I worked for such a boss. Everyone who worked for him knew their first job was to make him look good. If you didn’t he’d “get you back,” somehow. After a few years I got promoted and went to another office – part of the same region. After a couple of months I was sitting at the same table as him at a regional mangers’ meeting. We were there to fix sales targets for the coming year. The regional manager wanted to take bottom up targets, but when they were all added together they weren’t enough to match the head office requirements. We were all asked to take bigger targets.
Come lunchtime debate was still going on without too much progress. Over lunch the regional manager talked to my old boss who headed the biggest office in the region. When we re-convened, he said he would take about 40% of the extra target. This opened the gates and within an hour the gap had been closed.
Everyone went away thinking a good solution had been worked out.
A few weeks later I went to a party with a couple of my old colleagues (who still worked for bad boss). At the party they turned on me. It turned out, he had told them that he had no choice but to take the extra target against his wishes because we had “all ganged up on him.” In order to avoid telling the truth to his team, he had painted the other managers in the region including me as nasty and scheming! I was glad i didn’t have to work for him any more!