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Todd Brown

Next Action Associates

Managing Partner

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Six steps to ineffective leadership


Are your leadership skills too effective? Follow these simple steps and you will soon be joining the large group of bad leaders that are still out there...

In our work as productivity and effectiveness consultants, we help leaders to lead more effectively, to be more efficient, and to realise the benefits of stress-free productivity.

We identify and eliminate sources of friction in ways of working, enable mental clarity and ensure that leaders are getting the right things done - both for themselves and their organisations.

But this got me wondering. We might just have been neglecting an audience that could benefit.  What can we do to help you if you feel like your leadership skills are too effective, too refined, and generating too many positive results? What if you’re just tired of winning? What if you wanted to join the ranks of ineffective leaders?

If that sounds like something you’d like to explore, here are six useful steps:

1. Strategic vision? What a load of…

Put frankly, George Bush Sr. famously didn’t value “the vision thing”, and as a leader you shouldn’t bother either. Anyway, if it really is that important, you’re bound to get an email about it sooner or later.

Considering the big picture and looking at long-term outcomes, developing strategy and aligning your team to achieve it all is a total waste of time. That sort of higher-perspective thinking just gets in the way of focusing on what’s most important – an email that just arrived in your inbox. Just relax and ignore it – if it’s meant to happen, it will happen.

2. Keep a full calendar

White space is for wimps, let’s face it. Your importance as a leader is directly related to the number of meetings you have in your diary, so keep it permanently full. If, god forbid, you find yourself with free time on your hands during the day, you’re clearly doing something wrong – you’re probably not important enough. Never allow that to happen.

In fact, double and triple-book yourself so you can cancel last minute and keep your team on its toes. If in extreme circumstances you do find yourself with free time, use it only to handle your email backlog, or maybe browse your social media channels. Under no circumstances do any planning or higher-level thinking (see step 1).

3. Always be available for work

The best leaders are ‘always on’, so remember to leave your door open and encourage your colleagues to interrupt you at any time, for any reason – no matter what you’re doing. Be sure to interrupt face-to-face meetings with colleagues and clients to answer calls to your mobile. Or even message notifications and emails, because remember, you’re important, right?

Multitasking is the sign of a leader who is at the pinnacle of optimal productivity. If you miss something important while you’re typing with your thumbs, don’t worry – it probably wasn’t important anyway. Even after you’ve left the office (if in fact you ever do), make sure you always have your phone on you and continue to check it regularly, especially during family meals/concerts/religious services.

Important things are happening and you need to keep in check. For extra bonus points, answer emails before dawn, on the weekends, or both. Be sure to copy the boss.

4. Delegation is for the weak

You are in a leadership position in the first place because you’re better at doing things than anyone else, so why would you delegate your stuff to someone else? It’s far better that you hold onto things and make sure they’re done properly.

As your backlog of things to do gets longer, remind yourself that that’s an indication of how indispensable you are to the organisation. It literally couldn’t survive without you. Meanwhile, your team can keep itself busy doing emails.

5. Be busy – ALL the time

Be sure to sacrifice perspective at the altar of busy. Remember, the boss is watching. When she walks by your office, make sure you’re typing furiously, on the phone with a furrowed brow, or hurriedly wolfing down your lunch while watching the video of your CEO’s latest presentation to staff.

What you’re doing is much less important than the fact that you’re constantly doing something. That’s why you have so many meetings to fill up time. The good news here is that the world offers you a constant stream of new things to focus on, so staying busy is easy. Every one of those red dots on your smartphone screen deserves an equal amount of your attention, so keep on top of them!

6. Stay stressed and have zero work-life balance

You’re in a leadership position after all. Do they give you all that responsibility and pay you all that money to relax and spend undistracted quality time with your family? To operate with a sense of relaxed, focused control? To have phone and laptop-free holidays? No, they do not.

If you don’t have hypertension, insomnia, RSI from keyboard use, or some other stress-related malady then you’re clearly not working hard enough. If you have time for a social life or hobbies during the week you clearly have trouble prioritising.

Focus on these crucial steps and you should start to see results immediately. Also keep an eye out for examples of these practices in other leaders in your organisation. You may find you have quite a lot of company.

Want to read something a bit more beneficial for your leadership development? Discover how to become an inspiring leader through authenticity.

Author Profile Picture
Todd Brown

Managing Partner

Read more from Todd Brown

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