you're not a leader whenA gal pal asked me if I’d heard that Doug’s* company had failed.

Given that we’d worked with him earlier in our careers, neither of us was surprised that his entrepreneurial venture hadn’t succeeded beyond a few years. Doug was super smart but difficult to get along with, driven yet narcissistic, single-minded about success, unwilling to share, and short on integrity and ethics.

Driving home and thinking of Doug led me to thinking about managers and leaders…and the multitudes of articles, books, and blog posts written on how to differentiate between the two. I believe that all leaders have to be managers but that not all managers are leaders. For me, it boils down to what you do, and how you do it—and if you do it.

You may be able to manage a project like nobody’s business and always get the work done ahead of schedule and below budget, but that alone doesn’t make you a leader. The whole leadership thing boils down to you ethically leading yourself and how you make others feel about themselves, their work, and you.

10 ways to know you’re not a leader

You know you’re not a leader if:

1) You cut ethical corners and believe the means justify the ends.

2) You ask people for their opinion, not because you’re really interested in what they have to say, but because you want to be able to say that you did indeed ask for their opinion.

3) You shamelessly steal people’s ideas and fail to give credit where credit is due.

4) You expect employees to figure it out for themselves.

5) You choose being liked over doing the right thing.

6) You turn everything into an either/or choice, force people to take sides, and say those who disagree with you are wrong, wrong, wrong.

7) You’re convinced you don’t make mistakes, not ever.

8) You never recognize good performance or say thank you.

9) You play favorites and everybody knows it.

10) You tell people the reason you want them to do something is because you’re telling them to do it.

What else would you add to the list? 


*not his real name

Image credit:  morgueFile






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