I have worked for more weak leaders than strong. I’ll bet you may have, too. However, I believe you can learn just as much from a weak leader—maybe more.
I was reminded of this again when I read Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It is a page-turning account of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency and his political genius.
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Though Lincoln was a strong leader, he wasn’t perfect. He occasionally selected men for public service who were unworthy of his trust. One such individual was General George B. McClellan, commander of the “Army of the Potomac” and, eventually, first general-in-chief of the Union Army.
General McClellan had significant character flaws. The good news for us is that they serve as warning signs to us. Ultimately, these flaws cost him dearly. He lost Lincoln’s confidence, he lost his job, and he later lost a run for the White House (against Lincoln).
McClellan’s weakness as a leader can be attributed to five fundamental flaws, and these are flaws that appear consistently in weak leaders.
- Flaw #1: Weak leaders hesitate to take definitive action.
- Flaw #2: Weak leaders complain about a lack of resources.
- Flaw #3: Weak leaders refuse to take responsibility.
- Flaw #4: Weak leaders abuse the privileges of leadership.
- Flaw #5: Weak leaders engage in acts of insubordination.
President Lincoln had the patience of Job. He gave General McClellan numerous opportunities to correct his behavior and redeem himself. But in the end, McClellan either could not or would not do so. He left the President no choice but to relieve him of his duties.
In this episode, I also talk about how to deal with those flaws in yourself and in those who are leading you.
- Alan Williams asked, “How do I know if I’m doing a good job as a leader?”
- Blessing Mpofu asked, “How do you lead people who are smarter and stronger than you in areas you are not?”
- Brandon W. Jones asked, “How do you deal with a leader who has a Jekyll and Hyde personality?”
- James Divine asked, “How can I influence other leaders who have a difficult time being courageous?”
- Jonathan Lazar asked, “How do I know if the problem is me as a leader who needs to grow or if the problem is an employee who needs to go?”
- Joseph Iliff asked, “Have you had any experience with leaders who are quick to blame and slow to accept responsibility?”
- Kent Lapp asked, “What do you do if you feel you are working for a weak leader and you are actually a better leader?”
- Robert Farrington asked, “Do you have any tips in giving feedback to new leaders—perhaps someone you work for or someone external to the company?”
- My business partner, Ken Davis, and I will be hosting the SCORRE Conference, May 6–9 at the beautiful Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando, Florida.
Whether you are a professional speaker—or just want to be—this conference will teach you how to prepare with focus, deliver with confidence, and speak with power. Bottom line: it’s a conference designed to maximize the impact of your speeches.
Honestly, this conference has had a bigger impact on my career than any conference I have ever attended. It revolutionized my speaking and his influenced every aspect of my communication, including my blogging and podcasting.
If you are serious about becoming a better speaking, you simply must attend. You can find out more at SCORREConference.tv.
- If you are considering launching your own platform, you need to start with a self-hosted WordPress blog.
This is not as complicated as it sounds. In fact, I have put together a step-by-step screencast on exactly how to do it. You don’t need any technical knowledge. I walk you through the entire process in exactly 20 minutes.
And, for a limited time, Bluehost—the hosting company I personally recommend—is offering an amazing deal to my listeners. You can get web hosting for as little as $3.95 a month.
- My next podcast will be on the topic of “The 3 Ingredients of Job Satisfaction.” If you have a question on this subject, please leave me a voicemail message. This is a terrific way to cross-promote your blog or website, because I will link to it, just like I did with the callers in this episode.
In this episode I mentioned several resources, including:
- Book: Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
- Book: The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes
- Post: How to Get Your Boss to Say “Yes,” Part 1
- Post: How to Get Your Boss to Say “Yes,” Part 2
- Post: How to Get Your Boss to Say “Yes,” Part 3
- Post: Leadership and Accountability
- Post: 8 Leadership Lessons from a Symphony Conductor
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Question: Do you see any of these five flaws in your own leadership? Where are you struggling?