So what do “bad” or dissonant leaders look like? They come in several forms.
Some are easy to spot (top 3 below) while others (last 2 below) often hide under a veneer of charm and charisma in order to mislead and manipulate.
- The Clueless– these operate out of a Pollyanna view and remain oblivious to the realities around them most of the time. They often blindly assume the rest of the world is of the same viewpoint and emotional state these are (they can be self-absorbed as well)
- The Self-absorbed– they are in it primarily for themselves and their priorities ultimately emanate from and benefit their own self-interests (they can be clueless as well)
- The Inept– these are the folks are in over their heads….often promoted to their level of incompetence. Instead of having the awareness or courage to step-down, they just press on and hope for the best
- The Manipulator– while self-absorbed, these go one step further in that they skillfully use their charm, power, magnetism and suave to intentionally mislead others and use them to get what they want
- The Demagougue– these type of dissonant leaders are the worst because they can be very, very adept at motivating and moving people. Unfortunately, they do this by polarizing people with a “us vs them” mentality and preying on negative survival emotions in order to achieve selfish, demeaning, or in worst case, destructive ends (think brutal dictators here).
The havoc wreaked by the first three can be described as collateral damage. The last two however, are dangerous and concerning because the damage and harm they cause is intentional. To make matters worse, their intelligence, charisma and ability to negatively manipulate emotions confuses followers and makes it hard to recognize them for who and what they really are. Too often, people recognize them for who they are only after being caught-up in their wake or after the damage has been done. Been there/done that?
Regardless, the real question is, “Is there a way to avoid these leaders”? Yes, and simply being aware is the first step if you want steer clear. Unfortunately, sometimes coming under their authority isn’t always within your control, or you realize you’ve made a mistake. What then? Regardless of your situation, just ask yourself: “Do the actions of this leader violate the individual or lead a person contrary to the beneficial and/or transcendent purpose which they desire?” Red flags need to go up if the answer is “yes” and you haven’t yet committed to that leader. If find you’re already following one of these 5 types, then it’s time to determine your next steps. If you have to wrestle with leaving, don’t get conflicted by the loyalty issue; people don’t leave companies, they leave poor leaders. By the way, regularly checking in and asking yourself the same question can help you from becoming a dissonant leader (it can happen!!!).
I don’t think most leaders start out aspiring to become a dissonant leader. What they usually lack in spades, however, are EI/SI abilities and they need to learn them. If that’s the case and we also assume their followers don’t want to live in that pain, then there is hope for a better day and a better way. Things can change.
And that’s where resonant leadership comes in. The foundation and defining trait of resonant leaders is that they do have EI/SI abilities spades. Learning some specifics about EI/SI abilities, skills and how to acquire and improve them is the next step.
Until next time.