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Chris LoCurto


September 2, 2011

What To Do With Poor Leadership

September 2, 2011 | By | 26 Comments">26 Comments

Question from another EntreLeadership Podcast listener:

I am picking up this podcast due to the great things I’ve heard about it from the Dave Ramsey show podcast. When I am in a situation where I see obvious poor leadership around me, what are some suggestions for how to proceed constructively and politically correctly? 

Tim H.

Thank you Tim for your question and your comments about the podcast. We hope to make it the best podcast out there. As for your question about how to deal with poor leadership, there are a few things you can do:

  • Look out below! – If the poor leadership is below you, then it’s an obvious fix. The problem is your leadership. It is your job to make your team successful. Therefore, if a leader is failing, and he is under your leadership, you have to figure out what you’re doing or not doing that’s causing the problem.
  • Peer to peer – If the leader is on the same level as you are, then I suggest you start an iron-sharpening-iron lunch group. Take time each week to meet with those leaders away from the office as equals, and use that time to mentor them. For this to work, you can’t be the one doing all the leading. Instead, make it an opportunity for all leaders to share what’s working and what’s not in their leadership. That will give you the opportunity, with love and grace, to discuss some of the issues you see. Be prepared! They will do the same with you.
  • Going up? – If you’re noticing poor leadership above you, consider what John Maxwell said in 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: “The true measure of leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.” You can influence those above you with your diligence, your excellence and your example. You can accomplish that by asking them to mentor you. That may sound backwards. After all, why would you want a poor leader to mentor you? But a close mentoring relationship will give you the opportunity to lead and influence them without an uncomfortable confrontation about their lack of leadership skills.

As you can see, in all situations influence is key. It starts with you. If you go the extra mile to be a great leader, you can, in turn, influence other leaders.

Question: What are your suggestions for dealing with others’ poor leadership?

  • Uma Maheswaran S (@mahez007)

    Great Question! I find the case of going up quite interesting. What to do when I find a poor leader in the top? One way of dealing with a poor supervisor is keeping the relationship too professional;Being cautious in our approach; Doing only what is required. ( To be honest, I find the approach of mentoring under him as quite dumb)

    • Joel Fortner

      I don’t think it’s dumb at all. It’s actually a great example of servant leadership but from a subordinate position. The subordinate is taking the leadership role, but in a not so obvious way, so as to help that leader improve their leadership skills. I think this could be very effective because the mentor-mentee relationship is going to bring leadership issues to the surface and if the mentee plays his cards right, the mentor will grow as a leader. It seems counter-intuitive but I think it’s a great way to go, at least at first.

    • specializingintheimpossible

      Maybe mentoring under poor leadership wouldn’t improve every situation…but I know it can help. I have used that idea before and found it very effective! :)

      • Uma Maheswaran S (@mahez007)

        That’s a different approach all together Joel. I agree. I should be trying this from this perspective — “It’s actually a great example of servant leadership but from a subordinate position.”

  • Anonymous

    I love this post :)
    I try to be consistent in letting a person know I appreciate their good leadership qualities or decisions, and if something’s ‘lacking’ I just ask questions about their decision or line of thinking. And usually in their responses to me they come up with better ideas, or ask my opinion :)

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Anonymous

      I did not realize I was not logged in when I left that comment! Haha :)
      Go me.

      • Joel Fortner

        I was wondering where your nose went.

        • specializingintheimpossible

          I found my nose….. :)
          The second time I left a comment it still listed me as Anonymous even though I logged in. Weird.
          Anyway, thought I’d let you know who I really was….

          • Joel Fortner

            Congrats! And you gained quite a landscape to boot!

            • specializingintheimpossible

              Garden of the Gods :)

    • Chris LoCurto

      Good stuff anonymous! :-)

  • Eric Speir

    I like the idea of peer to peer leadership. I work with other guys and we are all pretty driven individuals. It might do us good to meet once a week to share ideas and to build community with one another.

    • Joel Fortner

      That’s a great idea. I’ll steal it, give you credit once and then make it mine. =) And Chris’….maybe.

    • Chris LoCurto

      Absolutely! many of our leaders have a weekly meeting just for that.

    • ginasmom

      Amen to that, there is something about sharing ideas and success and once comfortable enough sharing failures.

  • AccuContrive (@AccuContrive)

    Chris, thanks for this post. keep up your great work!

    I wonder what you would suggest when the upper leadership is poor, and the peers are mostly cynics, IMHO as a direct result of the long years of poor upper leadership. Imagine this: every serious project undertaken is subject to ridicule and resistance; every meeting turns into a comedy show…

    You offer to lead by example. I do this for years, but it seems that the upper management is just satisfied with someone sacrificing himself, and the peers are [maybe] appreciating, but not joining the journey.

    What would you do to fix the problem?

    • Tom Brichacek (@tbric)

      I would start suggesting Entreleadership 1 day simulcast. Take the whole group. Dave & Chris’ energy and teaching might make them open their eyes.

      • Chris LoCurto

        Great suggestion! :-)

    • Chris LoCurto

      Leaving! Seriously, someone out there wants to better there company with champions. If not, start one.

  • Tom Brichacek (@tbric)

    Tough question. I like Chris’ ideas. If the other leader is on your level, I would maybe suggest just a sit down with them to discuss what is working for you. Approach it like Chris says, but just talk about what IS working at first to soften the ego before going to the not working part.

    • Chris LoCurto

      Take your mask off, they’ll take off theirs. Excellent Tom!

  • Joel Fortner

    Chris, I think the following Bible versus apply to each one of these situations.

    “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:24

    “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.” Proverbs 12:1

    “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers makes victory sure.” Proverbs 11:14

    • Chris LoCurto

      Great stuff Joel!!