What To Do With Weak Leaders

Here’s a question from the EntreLeadership Podcast:

I work for a company that has very poor leadership. What should I do in a situation where I want to be led by strong leaders? I have a lot of ideas how to run the company better, but there is no “team” atmosphere, and the boss’ head is basically buried in the sand.—B.M.

The first thing that jumps out at me is personality styles. Most likely, the leader is a high S on the DISC profile, which means he has a very amiable personality. He’s very slow to act and slow to make decisions. He hates conflict and is concerned about messing people up by making the wrong call. With that in mind, it sounds like you are a high I, probably with a decent amount of D in you. You’re an influencing personality that needs to constantly be challenged.

If this is correct, it makes sense why you’re frustrated. A leader becoming stronger only happens through maturity, and any personality style can get there. Just because someone can bark out orders doesn’t mean they are strong. It just means they’re a dictator. If your main goal is to be led by a strong leader, you may be out of luck at this company. Until he is taught to be a strong leader, he’s not going to be one.

However, if you want to get your ideas across and make some changes in the company, that’s a different story. The key, as John Maxwell would say, is influence. In order to get your ideas to your leaders and to have them act on them, you must influence them. If they see you as the constant complainer or the person who appears to be insubordinate, they won’t listen.

However, if you spend your time serving them and showing them that you know what you’re talking about, they will start to listen. They have to feel as though you have their best interests at heart, as well as the company’s. Show them:

  • How you take on responsibility with a “buck stops here” attitude.
  • How you are able to tackle any task they give you with energy and enthusiasm.
  • How you always make sure you keep them completely in the know with what’s going on.
  • How you create a team atmosphere yourself.
  • How you work with others and help them to be successful.

As you do these things, your leadership will notice. As you show them how much of a servant you are for them, the team and the company, they will begin to listen to what you have to say.

Question: How have you convinced weaker leaders to implement your ideas?

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Meet Chris LoCurto


Chris has a heart for changing lives by helping people discover the life and business they really want.

Decades of personal and leadership development experience, as well as running multi-million dollar businesses, has made him an expert in life and business coaching. personality types, and communication styles.

Growing up in a small logging town near Lake Tahoe, California, Chris learned a strong work ethic at home from his full-time working mom. He began his leadership and training career in the corporate world, starting but at E'TRADE.

28 thoughts on “What To Do With Weak Leaders”

  1. I think you’re advice is dead on here. While the personality styles are different, the approaches pretty much summarize the team I’m on now. Our leader responds differently to each of us and I’m convinced that’s because of how we respond to her, approach issues, make decisions and so on.

  2. First, I make sure my decisions net positive results in the areas that are already my responsibilities. Then when I approach something new, I explain my reasoning, comparing it to what I have already accomplished, and focus on how the ‘change’ with positively affect them.
    Needed this post today–thanks!

  3. Your description of the leader in question, high S, was spot on for me. Fortunately I have a D vice-president and an I vice-president as part of my leadership team. You said: “A leader becoming stronger only happens through maturity, and any personality style can get there” (PTL! There’s hope for me.) “Until he is taught to be a strong leader, he’s not going to be one.” So, where does one go to be taught to be a strong leader. I’ve been taking in the EntreLeadership material, and planning to go to the Master Series. Any other suggestions? I try to read as much as I can. Got some good book suggestions? Thanks! Ted

    1. Either a strong leader above, a mentor, or someone he respects can teach him to be a better leader. Other than that, he would have to chose to study by coming to stuff like Entre.

  4. Similar to Ted’s reply, can you really change the DISC spots on the leopard?

    I understand it’s possible, but usually only after a significant emotional event. IE a high D might be more likely to be a stop and smell the roses type person after a significant health scare or the loss of someone deeply important to them. It’s more a response to trauma than the will to change. I’ve only seen one other instance of that significant change and that was the equivalent to someone reaching the top of the Maslow’s pyramid. The self actualization made a High D person slow down and be less driving, more forgiving and more moderate in how they approach life. .

    But for the life of me, I’ve not seen an S person move to a D.

    1. Forgot to add, the WSJ on Monday had an excellent series of articles on leadership and team members. For those who have access to them, it’s worth the read.

      1. What happens when stronger personalities push back if the natural tendency is to avoid conflict? Also, do you have any well known examples that could be researched/contacted to be used as mentoring example(s)?

        1. If they aren’t mature, they will do one of two things: avoid the conflict and try and talk their way through the process for a couple of hours, or explode if they feel they have been backed into a corner. Neither is good.
          As for a public example, that’s a great question. I’ll have to try and thing of one. None come to mind right now.

          1. Appreciate that search. I believe it will be helpful if the experiences of those people can be tapped into.

            But not being able to think of someone sort of goes back to my original comments that it’s difficult for a leopard to change their spots. Except in cases of a significant emotional event or self actualization. And my experience has always been that it usually is a high D morphing into something less driven and more laid back. Not the reverse.

          2. Oh, I can come up with personal situations. Just no public off the top of my head.

            You have to realize that changing spots only comes with ones ability to mature in their personality style. Self actualization is a must if you’re going to change you. I’ve changed many spots over the years. If you ask the people who really know me, they will tell you I’m not the normal high D. That’s only because I know me first, then others. Does that make sense?

            Sent from my iPhone

          3. Does it make sense. To a point.

            I wonder how your results would have come out if you took a DISC test 15 years ago. My guess it would be not the same but similar. But I also only know you from your forum persona. So that’s something of a stab in the dark.

            Since you folks are probably one of the loudest proponents of DISC (said favorably) I wonder if they have research they are willing to share including steps to decrease weaknesses one finds in a DISC profile and increase areas where strengths are needed. ,

          4. I did take one 17 years ago. considerably different. 🙂 I took it again 11 years ago and 2 years ago. Those were a lot alike. I took one a couple of months ago and I’ve changed again. But so has my role.

            The greatest thing you can do to decrease weakness in your personality is to discover it. By far that is the issue I see the most. People learn a little about the DISC and then begin to say what’s right or wrong with everyone else, but they rarely take a deep look on the inside. The more you know you, the easier it is to make adjustments to other personalities. You don’t change you, you just lean in their direction.

  5. Good advice Chris. I might add, have the “team” take the DISC profile so they know where everyone is coming from. I would tell the boss that this will help everyone in the company communicate with each other more effectively. He will hear a win/win.

  6. One of the first things I do is know the right time and place when to talk to them. You can have the right idea at the wrong time and still be wrong! It helps to know your leader well enough that you can talk to them. My leader is a strong leader but I’ve failed on presenting ideas because I did it at the wrong time.

  7. This is an excellent piece on being able to influence those above you hopefully in the right direction. In one of the responses you mention having a strong leader teaching him/her or mentoring him to be a strong leader. From below how do you convince him/her that they need to learn to be strong leaders? And in agreement with Eric timing is everything.

  8. If we find it difficult to cope up with our weak leader, then bashing that leader is going to be unproductive. Either we need to talk to the leader about it ( with right timing, right tone, etc). Else, if we feel that we cannot talk with the leader, then we need to leave.

  9. Great post – and great advice! And I loved all the comments as well. A company I once worked for with weak leadership took my advice only after I “proved” myself – and my ability to handle projects, people, etc.

    I am blessed to work for a company where the leadership is highly respected and strong. I once worked for a company where it was just the opposite and althought it has been 12 years since I worked for that company, to this day, the leadership remains the same. I just wonder how they have survived.

    Question – how would your advice differ – or would it – if this were the leadership in a church?

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