The Listless Leader

There are two types of dysfunctional leaders in meetings. One dominates every discussion. Pontificates about everything he knows. Makes all decisions before discussion starts.

We read in Proverbs that a wise leader seeks advice. I’ve experienced many of these leaders. They are easy to understand. They are just so full of themselves they call meetings just to have an audience. The same book of advice counsels us to hold our tongue, keep silence. That’s a good meeting strategy for a leader. Except that the leader should ask questions.

The other type is harder for me to fathom. She sits slumped in her chair. Seemingly distracted. Discussion is held. Some decisions are made. But everything is tentative. No definite direction is formed. The leader may say something. He may “wake up” long enough to make a contribution. But the meeting goes on as if the leader (or the person who holds the title of leader) offers nothing.

In the recent history of business, we’ve seen examples of leaders, perhaps trying to avoid responsibility as in the Enron debacle, who described themselves that way. Aloof. Letting subordinates do whatever they wish.

This is a path to ruin.

Is this because some leaders are like the first one who needs affirmation but who don’t have that dominating personality? They need the conversation to be all about them, but expect others to do the affirming?

This type of leader could use some of the energy of the first type. A leader who does not show energy does not show interest. A leader not interested is not doing her job. Energy breeds energy. From the energy of the leader comes energy of everyone. From lethargy of the leader comes indecision and incomplete decisions. And subordinates left to go their own way.

A good leader shows interest and energy, bringing the energy level of the entire meeting up to where everyone is involved. Then decisions are made and everyone is clear what the direction of the organization is.

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