Blog: The Worst Advice about Leadership We’ve Ever Heard


The Worst Advice about Leadership We’ve Ever Heard

An overly headstrong leader can actually stunt the success of an organization with their ego
The Worst Advice about Leadership We’ve Ever Heard

Leadership is necessary for success, no doubt about it. But what sort of leadership? An overly headstrong leader can actually stunt the success of an organization with their ego. The problem with communicating effective leadership advice is that opinions on leadership tactics are as numerous as leaders themselves, which accounts for all the terrible advice we’ve heard over the years. You wouldn’t believe the how many people have approached us after a talk and begun a phrase with, “I heard your point, but I usually handle it like this…” only to follow up with some awful tactic usually pertaining to how a leader needs to be treated with the proper respect. There is an old adage which I think is appropriate, “The reason advice is free is because nobody wants it.”

This article isn’t for us to dole out advice on leadership, because leadership isn’t just about giving advice, for one. Here we’ll share some of the most ridiculous leadership advice we’ve ever heard in hopes that you’ll see what not to do as a leader:

1. “Micro-managing is the key to effective leadership”

Some leaders genuinely believe that you have to breathe down the necks of those you’re leading in order to make sure things are done correctly. Micro-managing doesn’t work for a number of reasons, the foremost being that it’s just unrealistic. There’s no way you can keep that close an eye on everyone, nor should you want to or have to.

The next being that it’s disrespectful to your subordinates. If you bring in a new member of the team, then they should be properly qualified so they can work well on their own. Nobody enjoys being micromanaged, and it can actually stifle productivity and motivation if people don’t have the opportunity to work on their own.

The tendency to micromanage comes from a fault in leadership: a lack of honesty. Leaders feel they need to micromanage when they haven’t honestly communicated their expectations and standards. A big aspect of leadership is making sure everyone is on the same page, which makes micromanagement unnecessary.

2. “Don’t let those you’re leading see you as a peer”

This is where the egocentrism that we see in a lot of leaders comes up. Many leaders simply think that it’s necessary and effective to appear superior to those they are leading. Of course, this is ridiculous. Respect is does not correlate with superiority. In fact, respect is actually built through empathy and mutual admiration, and these only come from a relationship of equal standing.

This doesn’t mean that, as a leader, you need to treat those you're leading like your best friends, but you are common members of a team and you should act like it; you have a common goal, just different roles to play.

If a leader feels a need to assert superiority over those he or she is guiding, then they have a problem with ego and their role as a leader. Remember, egocentrism has no place in leadership.

3. “The most important thing to leading is providing direction”

Providing direction is of course important for leaders, but it's not everything. Many who subscribe to this advice are of the ‘lead by example’ ilk. Providing examples is good, but the advice of ‘lead by example’ is an easy, one-size-fits-all, approach that doesn’t really address specific concerns.

Ultimately, as a leader, you’re there to support the members of the team, not just tell them what to do. Support includes providing direction but it’s also much more than that. Support means you take yourself and your ego out of the equation. It means you focus on the team as a whole and you focus on the ultimate goal. Remember, it’s more important to build a relationship with members of the team than it is to give directions. A leader who relies too heavily on doling out directions will miss connections they can have with members of the team, and it’s these sort of relationships that ultimately allow for success.

Disclaimer: This is a contributed post. The statements, opinions and data contained are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of People Matters and the editor(s).




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Topics: Leadership, Employee Engagement

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