A Famous Leader Just Showed the World How Not To Lead

If you Google the term “different leadership styles” — as I just did — you’ll get back “about 213,000,000 results.” Frankly, that number sounds low. But the point is there is no shortage of one person’s opinion on the differing leadership styles.

I happen to like this list from AMEX:

  • Autocratic Leadership
  • Pacesetting Leadership
  • Transformational Leadership
  • Coaching Leadership
  • Democratic Leadership
  • Affiliative Leadership
  • Delegative Leadership (AKA Laissez-Faire)

It’s a good piece and worth the read after you finish here of course.

During my 56+ years on this Earth, because of the many roles I’ve had and places I have been, I have worked with and for every type of leader you can imagine. All of the above… and then some. Moreover, I have been in leadership roles myself. The point I am trying to make is I am very well-versed in the ways and means of leaders. Well, business leaders that is; I’ve never worked in politics for example.

But at the end of the day, a leader is a leader is a leader and regardless of the situation, business or environment there are many traits that are shared by leaders.

Inspire. Motivate. Encourage. Empathy. Humility. 

In my not-so-humble opinion, these five words should be hallmarks; foundational elements of ANY leader. And behind every successful leader, I believe you will find these five words in one way, shape, or form at the heart of what they do and who they are.

Being a leader also carries with it tremendous responsibility. You are, after all as the word implies, leading people; setting an example and so on. And becoming a great leader does not happen over night however, all the hard work you’ve done to establish yourself can come crashing down quite quickly.

Isn’t that right, Mr. Buffet?

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffett

Not long ago one leader, in particular, did something, or more apt, said something that could very well “ruin it” as per Mr. Buffet.

Turning Up the Heat 

The leader is Mark Zuckerberg and, as reported originally by Reuters, said the following on a weekly Q&A call with Meta employees:

“If I had to bet, I’d say that this might be one of the worst downturns that we’ve seen in recent history. Realistically, there are probably a bunch of people at the company who shouldn’t be here. Part of my hope by raising expectations and having more aggressive goals, and just kind of turning up the heat a little bit, is that I think some of you might decide that this place isn’t for you, and that self-selection is OK with me.”

If any of the above sounds acceptable to you and you are in a leadership position I would go so far as to say my assumption is your team is more than likely not hitting its goals or if they are, they are doing so out of complete fear.

Look, I am all for being transparent and honest but this is not the way to go about it. Does any of the above have any of the five tenets I mentioned previously? Do they encourage, inspire or motivate people? Ok, I guess you can make the argument they motivate but, again, they do so out of fear.

Do his words show empathy or humility? Please spare me if you think they do because… they don’t.

I read a phenomenal piece on all this in Inc. from Justin Bariso entitled Mark Zuckerberg Just Made a Huge Mistake. It Could Destroy Meta and Facebook. It is a brilliant take on how wrong this and I encourage you to read it, yes after you’re done here.

One excerpt I want to share from Jason’s piece:

“But Zuck’s comments aren’t directed at those people (those who do a good job), you might argue. They’re targeted at the dead weight, the low performers. The people the company is better off without.

Wrong again. Meta can’t send this message to subpar employees without the risk of alienating its most valuable ones–because performance and life circumstances change.

Even Meta’s best employees make mistakes.

They get sick.

They start or grow families.

Their kids get sick.

They lose loved ones.

They get depressed.

By sending this type of message, Meta adds pressure to all its people. People who, after having a bad month, or week–or even a bad day–will fear how their manager is looking at them. Or how their next evaluation will go. Or how long they will have their job.

This is the opposite of a psychologically safe environment; it’s psychologically damaging.

Working under pressure like this isn’t sustainable. It hurts your people, hurts your culture, and hurts your cause.

In contrast, when company leaders see the big picture, when they make employees feel safe, that mistakes are OK, that they’ve got their backs–those employees will not only perform better over the long term, they will be inspired to remain loyal to the company.”

There is no way I could say this ANY better so I will end it right here.

I welcome your thoughts.

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