Aside from my dad, I was never fortunate in my line of work to look up to someone as mentor and learn their qualities, not until years later when I looked for one to help with my startup. In community pharmacy, you didn’t really need a mentor. You just dispense medications like a robot and counsel patients when necessary.
But when I made my move to corporate management, it was then that I hoped to come across a mentor worth following. But I didn’t. I had to work my way up through trial and error. What I did take a note of though, was how to not be like others. When you observe someone, you have two choices in terms the qualities you extract out of them; you either learn something useful, or you learn something that is detrimental.
What most people do is seek out to learn from those that are useful. What they don’t realize is that they can learn from the worst just as much, if not more.
Here is what I’ve learned from the worst.
Covering up Errors only makes things worse
If you make a mistake, disclose it. Too many arrogant leaders assume that they can conceal their poor choices. They think that because they are in a position of authority, they are allowed to make mistakes without consequences, and that revealing their errors would rob them of their superiority. This is wrong and costly. The best leaders possess the quality of disclosing and rectifying their errors immediately, without allowing it to extend itself to a damaging chain of events. The more someone appears perfect on the outside, the more they are likely to be concealing their imperfections on the inside.
If you can conceal a mistake by rectifying it in silence, then that is exactly what you should do. I am not saying that you should announce each and one of your errors out in the public. It won’t be long before someone leverages one of your mistakes against you to have you removed. But errors that substantiate into damaging consequences when concealed, is a mistake. And will come back to you. Leaders must have qualities that demonstrate boldness and owning up. Have a read of Illimitable Man’s post HERE with regards to leadership boldness.
One of the worst qualities of a leader is to discourage ideas of others. Especially good ideas that have the potential to bring about innovation, efficiency and improvement. It is surprising how many leaders are insecure when they are challenged with good ideas. Leadership is NOT about having the best ideas. It is about congregating a following or a group of people to promote their ideas and bring about a change. Your job as a leader is to put the smartest and the most creative people in a room and make sure that they can all work together coherently. To be insecure about someone’s good idea is to put yourself down to their level and declaring yourself unfit as a leader.
You need understand the roles you want to partake in. A leader is not a creator. He is not at the forefront of innovation. He cultivates the atmosphere that allows innovation to flourish. A manager is not an entrepreneur. He shouldn’t discourage entrepreneurial ideas for the sake of looking more superior himself. Managers set the operations and systems that help bring ideas to life.
Expects to get without giving
The worst leaders are selfish in nature. They look at their position as entitlement. They think their superior position as a leader, gives them the privilege of expecting others to do right by them, while not necessarily needing to return the favor. This is wrong. Management comes with entitlements. Successful entrepreneurs come with entitlements. But leaders do not. If you want to become a leader, you come last. You have to feed every member of the group before you feed yourself. Don’t expect others to do right by you first. You must give them reason as to why they should. You must demonstrate quality traits that show trust and credibility, so others could become loyal to you. Your only entitlement as a leader is when your group finds out that they can’t survive without you as their leader.
Then its your job to not let this get to your head while you continue to deliver for them. I wrote a Twitter thread on leadership Compulsion & Influence relevant to the point I am making here.
Pay attention to everyone. You can learn qualities from the best, but you can often formulate your own qualities by learning from the worst. If you link their poor choices to the consequences that unfold, you will instantly see what the right choice should have been. Learn to be objective. Because if you are an arrogant person, rarely will you learn from the best, but never will you learn from the worst. You cut your market of gaining knowledge by half simply because you think you are above everyone else. My dad once told me “if you really pay attention, you can learn things from a 5 year old”.
I will be writing articles extensively on leadership qualities and will be discussing them in The Lobby with members.