How NOT to be a Good Leader

By | September 5, 2019

[September 5, 2019]  For those following the U.S. presidential campaigning, you probably overlooked some of those doing poorly in popularity polls.  I’m looking at them because they tell us something of value.  What they are doing says what NOT to do as a leader.

Take, for example, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio.  I’ll be using his behavior as an example from which we can gain enormous value in our study of leadership.  Bill de Blasio is the only one of more than 20 Democratic contenders for the presidency and is also a current large-city mayor.  This position gives de Blasio credibility in the presidential race because he is actively involved in major leadership decision-making day to day.

What are those things he is doing (or not doing) that can show us how not to be a good leader?  If you want firsthand information on what he thinks are his biggest assets, the go to his presidential candidate website.  It can be found here.  I am, of course, no expert on running for president, nor will I ever be.  But from his website and from what others are saying about him (there is a pattern), we can learn a lot.

  1. His message is unclear. Great leaders have clarity of vision, intense focus, and communicate their intentions well.  Whether it be setting expectations or building coalitions, a senior leader must be capable of drawing people to his side because they believe what the leader stands for.  De Blasio message is that he will be “a president who puts working people first.”  Okay Bill, what does that even mean?
  2. He lacks moral courage. We all know blowhards and fake leaders when we hear them.  Their positions shift with the winds and it is difficult to pin them down.  In NYC, de Blasio refused to take a stand on several issues because they were too “controversial.”  He simply didn’t want to offend someone.  Nope, you’ve got to stand up for what is right; even if it’s unpopular.
  3. He doesn’t pull people together. De Blasio is known as a person who loves “diversity” and accepts all comers to his city.  While this is what he says, reality says something different.  He doesn’t rally people to a cause (I’m unsure he has a cause) or support those who rely on him to be present at important times.
  4. He doesn’t have your back. Just ask the NYPD if he has their back.  Too many times, he’s thrown his cops under the bus for political expediency.  De Blasio has also allowed residents to disrespect police officers on the streets by not addresses the fact that his police are some of the best in the world.  He would rather take credit for their work and, at the same time, blame them for anything that goes wrong.
  5. Being careless with his words. At a recent visit to the Miami airport this past June, he met with striking airport workers.  He declared “Hasta la Victoria, siempre.”  The problem is that this was the battle cry of communist Che Guevara, the murderous revolutionary.  At least de Blasio got the Spanish right unlike some other presidential contenders.  He also made disparaging remarks about his own city; that the reason so many racial minorities are arrested in NYC is because the criminal justice system is racist.

I could go on but I think this is a good starting list of how NYC mayor Bill de Blasio fails to be a great leader, or just a good leader.  He is showing us what not to do.  And I thank him for that.


Note:  I’ve written a number of articles on Bill de Blasio.  The latest one, “The New York City Exodus” is especially enlightening and reinforces today’s article.

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

28 thoughts on “How NOT to be a Good Leader

  1. Dale Paul Fox

    I see we have some new folks in the comments section. I hope that they are regular contributors. Only by a back and forth discussion can we truly begin a conversation on great leadership.

  2. Mr. T.J. Asper

    What great timing. We are just now starting the school year and I’ve also made a list of things my students and football players should NOT be doing. I’ll be taking some of your items to augment my list too. Most of mine (teaching, mentoring, coaching) is about laziness, getting in trouble with the law, etc. Classic! Thanks!

    1. Darryl Sitterly

      Good luck in the school year. Keep the PC out of the classroom and help expose those teachers who have drank from the socialist cool-aid glass.

  3. Willie Shrumburger

    Good list. I see below that Army Captain made some additional suggestions. Well done!

  4. Crazy Dude

    Hi, I’m a new reader. I hope to make a contribution to his blog too. I’m from New York City. I agree with using our mayor as an appropriate example of how not to be a great leader.

  5. Lynn Pitts

    Great article. You made me put my thinking hat on this morning. I was able to compare some of my commanders to your list. Amazing how many of my failed commanders made your list seem only reasonable.

  6. ZB22

    I’m new here at Mr. Satterifeld’s leadership blog and I like what I see. I hope to make some intelligent comments. Today, I really liked this article as it hit home with me. Too many of those I’ve worked for in the past have been terrible. Now, I’m beginning to understand it better.

    1. Yusaf from Texas

      Welcome, ZB22. You will find this to be a friendly comment section. Our goal is to have a logical discussion of the merits of these ideas.

      1. Georgie B.

        Yes! ZB22, you will find that we refer to the owner of the site as Gen. Satterfield and not Mr. Not a problem with Mr. but we use his current title. However, I find that he doesn’t care one way or the other.

  7. Eric Coda

    NYC mayor Bill de Blasio is an excellent example. People, that is people everywhere, somehow can tell a real leader from a fake leader. They know that Blasio is not a real leader and thus he is tanking in the presidential polls. To me, he seems desperate. I would hope that he knows by now that he has no chance of getting the nomination. Those from NYC even hate him.

    1. Roger Yellowmule

      I tend to agree. How he got elected in the first place was by making promises to end corruption, do more for the poor and middle class, and work “for the people.” Of course, he is just another corrupt politician who cannot control a large organization.

    2. Harry Donner

      He is married to a black woman and uses this as a race-card to get ahead in the polls. That is disgusting. His wife should step up and say a few words about that and how MERIT is the reason de Blasio should be elected and not because he is married to her.

      1. JT Patterson

        “Disgusting” is the appropriate word. Thanks Harry.

    3. Karl J.

      I’m from Toronto but I can say that New York City is a good place but I can even see it going down hill.

    4. Mark Evans

      de Blasioooo, is just another “talking point” progressive with failed Marxist ideas. Didn’t he ever read about Marxism and the 10s of millions who were killed in its name (not counting wars)?

  8. Xerxes I

    Wow, nice list. Yes, I agree that we can learn just as much and perhaps more from bad leaders as we can from good leaders. The stickler here is that we “must” know the difference when we see it.

  9. Army Captain

    I would also list:
    #6. Being dishonest and lying.
    #7. Not caring for your people.
    #8. Not have a proper vision.

    1. Gil Johnson

      Good addition. Thank you Army Captain. It is always great to hear from you about Gen. Satterfield’s article content.

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