My top 5 problems with Leaders

So, someone wrote to me on the back of recent blogs

[Finally! My cry for attention is answered!]

asking why BadConsultant is so hard on leaders.

After I stopped laughing – and it took a fair few minutes, I can tell you – I thought I’d better set some things straight. Because I believe that leadership is critical. I might say now more than ever, if I were prone to polemic, but I’m not… So I won’t. Oh… I did. Well, never mind.

My issue isn’t with leadership – making tomorrow better than today is always OK with BC.

[OK with BC® soon to be available as a quality assurance standard for your management practices]

It’s with Leaders (authority figures who have the capitalized word Leader in their role description or Leadership in their core responsibilities). It’s with imitators. It’s with imposters. And it’s with the sycophantic support structures that perpetuate the myth.

So, without further ado, my top 5 problems with Leaders:

  1. They start strategic planning with where they are today – iterating the current state to gain incremental revenue growth or cost saving – and run in the opposite direction of any true visioning exercise (see 3 below).
  2. They don’t talk to customers, but instead rely upon translations of customer feedback by more junior Leaders, with all the rater bias that implies. If they do talk to customers, they definitely don’t involve them in strategic planning.
  3. They believe that, because they’ve been successful, success in the future for themselves and others will be more of what’s already happened.
  4. They champion diversity of thought and representation, so long as it agrees with their preconceived notions.
  5. They believe they are entitled to the trust that has been placed in them by their owners AND by their people, and have thus ceased to earn it every day.

And, of course, the list could go on

[and we would be happy to submit a statement of work for that supplemental scope creep]

particularly with respect to how Leaders somehow believe they have to be the ones having the ideas – Sheesh!

Until we meet again, please enjoy balancing life with work this weekend

[step away from the crack-berry]

Au revoir,



2 thoughts on “My top 5 problems with Leaders

  1. My problem is the word ‘right’ – conveying something as focused and all-encompassing as human rights upon organizational position is just, well, insulting. We use the “right to…” far too much in western society. No-one has the right to lead me.

    I’m with Seth Godin (from Tribes)… if someone is willing to follow you, then you’re a leader, simple as that.

    So, instead of ‘earning the right’, provide ideas, solutions, connection that cause people to follow you.

    Thanks for helping s*** hit fan!


  2. That’s a good top 5. I too have some reservations about people who describe themselves as leaders, just as one should be wary about those that consider themselves experts.

    A friend sent me an email the other day with a great excerpt from ‘The Right to Lead’ by John Maxwell. Some lines that resonated especially:


    It certainly isn’t gained by election or appointment. Having position, title, rank, or degrees doesn’t qualify anyone to lead other people. And the ability doesn’t come automatically from age or experience, either. No, it would be accurate to say that no one can be given the right to lead. The right to lead can only be earned. And that takes time.

    One of the ironies of leadership is that you become a better leader by sharing whatever power you have, not by saving it all for yourself.

    You’re meant to be a river, not a reservoir.

    If you use your power to empower others, your leadership will extend far beyond your grasp.

    For me, I like to think of leadership as teamwork, just with greater emphasis on purpose and direction.


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