What Happen If Your Leader(s) are Not-So-Good Ones ?

My previous article talk about what you can and can’t expect from good leaders. I hope once you read the article, you will reflect on whether your leader(s) are good or great ones. I for sure hope you discover your leaders are at the very least good ones or almost good ones and on his / her way to become even better every day. Don’t waste any moments with them, leverage them to produce your work masterpiece, to make you shine and to help you become a better professional and individual. If I were you, I leverage them fully to help me become the best version of myself to the very best of my ability.

However some of you maybe in for disappointment with revelation (or maybe already know but now it becomes even more certain) that your leaders may be the not-so-good ones and some may not even showing sign of intention or progress towards leadership growth. Then what ? I read and was given advise that I should move on once I figure out my leaders are the not-so-good ones. I learn over years though that it should always be the last resort and moving one should be so far more about pull (what the new companies, the leaders and the environment offer you as well of course the remuneration) vs push (what you don’t like in the current companies you work for). Ability to withstand, collaborate and then grow together with work-in-progress leaders actually will also showcase your resilience and leadership potentials. The fact that you actually thrive with leaders in-progress (or not), actually shining moments for your credibility and great learning moments, not to mention if you and your leaders grow together it will be unbreakable bond. Therefore indeed there are many reasons why you want to plan for your survival and even how to thrive on your current not-so-good leaders. I will walk you through some ideas on how but also at which point you may want to consider checking the market as well with the hope this will help you through your trying moments.

First you may want to try to get to know the situation your leader(s), especially your direct leader, where they are now in their growth journey.  He/she may really want to grow and need help and time to do it. In this case, you may want to consider to grow together helping him / her grow while you grow. Typically these leaders will ask inputs from you and share his / her growth journey, they have strong growth mindset, it is displayed on regular basis and it is who they are. With these leaders, you have opportunities to grow together and therefore invest into learning collaboration. These leaders also regularly share learning moments with you, when they do, share back. Engaged in learning conversations, think about not only what you need, but also what they need. This leaders subscribe to the quote of ” A True Leader never stop being a student, always learning and improving.” It is great opportunity for you to grow with your leaders, so simply said, stay, motivated each other to stay the course and grow together.

There is possibility where you identify your leader(s), they fall outside category of good leaders, yet you don’t see him / her seem to realize that nor you see him / her working on development plan. He / she has not ask your inputs. However when you attempt to give unsolicited inputs or probing his / her development, he / she is willing / open to consider – so it seems a matter that he / she is not thinking about it yet rather than don’t see the need to develop him/herself. Similar with above, you may want to consider to grow together albeit it may take longer time. There will always be in your career you will work under a leader that is not ahead of you in learning and you do not feel there is a progress in learning and growth. Do not immediately despair, it is not unsalvageable situation. Remember that sometime people may start later but finish first, learning may also be like that, your leader may not be aware but there is no guarantee that once he / she aware of his / her gap, the effort will not be as such, it is closing fast and you will enjoy great collaboration as both of you collaborate as equals. Again, it will be a shining moment for you that the company will notice in your resilience and growth mindset to help the organization learn and grow.

In general, for you to continue to stay and grow together with your leaders, there are other factors you may want to consider for example because the company is of full growth potential, generous in learning / remuneration and you have great opportunity to grow and develop yourself, as well as you have great colleagues and friends at work. We always have to remember the leaders currently working with you directly and indirectly are not always the proxy of the company especially mid to large size. If the overall culture, potential and environment enticing / attractive, you should really consider to stay and grow, even in much worse situation than above. Nothing last forever.

At times though, you can be unfortunate to have leaders who have opposing values than yours (and even the company) and / or with leadership capabilities that is so much below average without any intention to grow or even you can sense he / she trying hard to skate through as leaders, leaders who want to take it easy and resort to all kind of short cuts, as well riding on his / her team and sweet talking the organization to success. Leaders who have not invested in their teams even when the system mandated so. In this case, sooner or later you may get impacted by his / her behaviors. If this situation is created within several leaders including your direct leaders but yet the entire organization is of great values and great working environment, you may want to consider identifying good / great leaders beyond your direct ones, as well as those leaders who are on their way / growing to be good / great ones. Try to identify opportunities to work with them directly and indirectly. We need to remember that in many organizations, not-so-good / bad leaders are of exceptions and not mainstream.  

Only when you see the senior leaders exhibiting not so good behaviors and values or not walk the talk of the values they are sharing blatantly, then promoting people that is not based on merit consistently, making commercial decision clearly not based on commercial thinking, only then you need to prepare plan B – but even then it is important you do not rush it and work your way to sustain your current performance if not perform even better to help the company crash and burn while scanning the market for opportunities. Always remember that when you move on, it is to the land of unknown and uncertainty and thus doing your homework diligently is extremely important. Situation that you assess and promises made by the hiring managers, may change. It may not be immediately but if it change within 12 months, your career move may not be as ideal. Therefore, it is as much the new company interview you as much as you get to know them and make decision together whether you are right for each other. But a courageous leader is the one who have the courage to try something new, it is hallmark of good leader. Just remember Goethe quotes “Courage is the commitment to begin without any guarantee of success.” That is what courage mean and good leaders are the ones bursting with courage.

Lastly, as for you who are weathering not ideal situation working with no-so-good-leaders, your physical and emotional wellbeing is truly important to maintain given that when you have not so good leader working with you, you will experience often stress or even extreme stress. You should learn how to handle stress and extreme stress. Ability to handle extreme stress is also hallmark of great leaders. Read my article on handling stress to help you navigate and then benefit from it.

In meantime as Korean said : Hwaiting ! Or Indonesian will say : Semangat !

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