Known for his “You might be a redneck” one-liners, for almost thirty years stand-up comedian Jeff Foxworthy has helped audiences understand unique behaviors and credentials of rednecks. Taking a lesson from this comedic icon and adding Bill Engvall’s observation that people give us “signs,” I offer the following seven signs that your leadership might need some attention:
- You don’t make good decisions. You won’t or can’t prioritize; the complex and abstract addle you; or you try to reach consensus on decisions that you should own. This causes you to squander your time on the inconsequential while you put aside the critical. Others find you risk-averse, but your real problem is you have to stick with the familiar because figuring out the unusual terrifies and immobilizes you.
- You don’t learn from mistakes or learn new things quickly. We all know that if what you’re doing isn’t working, you should stop doing that and do something else. But weak leaders try to bargain with the devil, often selling their souls for what they hope will be success-or at least a different outcome.
- You think the rules of civility or rules in general don’t apply to you. Often weak leaders masquerade as strong leaders by making more noise than everyone else. When they have a position of power, they have both the opportunity and title to support their bad behavior and excuse their tantrums.
- You don’t understand numbers or how to apply them when making business decisions. Weak leaders often lack the ability to make sense of numerically presented data, but they confound their weakness by refusing to admit they need help. Foxworthy observed that, “If you think the stock market has a fence around it, you might be a redneck,” but you might also be a weak leader.
- You spend time doing the business instead of growing the business. People who rise to the top have usually done so in an industry or organization that does work they enjoy. Two problems. First, this cuts into the time they should be spending driving the business, and second, it denies those on the bench the opportunity to do the challenging work that will develop their skills.
- You don’t take the primary role in developing the bench and leave employee development to human resources. They trust that their HR professionals will supply all the requisite coaching, succession planning, and leadership skill development. It doesn’t dawn on these weak leaders that those in HR can’t possibly coach people to do what they haven’t done themselves. Leaders who would never think of taking skiing lessons online don’t hesitate to do essentially the same thing in their organizations.
- You don’t delegate. The word “micromanager” exists to describe this particular aspect of weak leadership. Not delegating keeps you from doing what you need to do, what you like to do, and what should be done. It also keeps you in the office and off the golf course, which can be a good place to drive the business (pun intended).
In one routine Foxworthy asked, “Did you know babies are nauseated by the smell of a clean shirt?” That helps new parents understand the mountain of laundry a little person can create.
I would ask, “Did you know weak leaders are nauseated by change?” That answer explains why the aforementioned seven signs can create mountains of inefficiency and failure.