[April 27, 2016] Command Sergeant Majors (CSM) are the U.S. Army’s most senior enlisted soldiers and all our military services have an equivalent. They are highly respected and they give their wisdom and advice to senior commanders to help their units run smoothly. One CSM once gave me his thoughts on why there are so many weak leaders … “we coddle the little twerps.”
Everybody has an opinion about what makes a weak leader and why. I think that’s because we’ve all experienced poor leadership sometime in our lives and because we’ve also seen the ill effects of it. Tragically, weak military leaders can get you killed or poor business leaders will lead their companies into financial ruin.
I promised my wife I would one day write this article because she experienced such weak leadership at her last place of employment and was so disgusted that she quit. She also gave me some good information to help write this piece; so special thanks to her.
The following list of 20 characteristics of weak leaders is from my experience and a little from my wife. They are listed here in no particular order:
- Inability to make timely decisions, hesitation, and second-guessing
- Lack vision and ability to motivate
- Play it safe
- Unclear expectations
- Narrow-mindedness and lack focus
- Lack of control over emotions
- Favoritism, nepotism, bias, and prejudice
- Blaming others
- Refusing to take responsibility
- Pandering to please everyone
- Perfectionist mindset
- Hypocrisy (not doing what you say)
- Abusing leader privileges
- Over-optimism or over-pessimism
- Lack clarity of ideas, vision, or core values
- Complaining about a lack of resources
- Being insubordinate
- Not learning from mistakes, from mentors, or from experience
- Lack moral courage
What we do know is that weak leadership is not just based on the character of the leader but is an interplay between the character of a leader, their leadership style, and their followers.1 What makes a leader weak is important only in the context of how to make a weak leader stronger and more resilient; a difficult task because they frequently lack the motivation to change.
In Part 2 of this two part series I will address leadership styles of the weak leaders.
[Don’t forget to “Like” the Leader Maker at our Facebook Page.]