7 Habits Of Highly Inept Leaders

by  Karin Hurt  |  Leadership Development
7 Habits Of Highly Inept Leaders post image

John’s voice shook as he shared his latest third party encounter with his bosses’ boss.

“Apparently I was caught yawning during her presentation. I didn’t even realize I had. The irony is that I was really into what she was saying. This had nothing to do with her. But apparently she gave my boss quite an earful about my behavior.

She didn’t even tell me directly so I could explain. How can I let her know this is not about her? I feel just awful. It’s just that I’ve been travelling so much for work, and I haven’t been feeling well.”

“Get some rest, keep doing a great job, and let it go.” I replied. This is not about you.

A confident, humble leader would have a different response to a yawning audience. Sadly such a reaction likely stems from insecurity and other inept behavior.

Effective Versus Inept Leaders

Stephen Covey has written about 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People. Today I share 7 habits of highly inept leaders:

  1. Be Reactive – Respond to the biggest fires first with full on urgency. Pull as many people into the mix as you can. When you’re stressed, make sure your team is stressed right along with you.
  2. Begin With What Will Buy You The Most Political Capital – Scratch the right backs and don’t worry about everyone else. Be at the right place at the politically correct time, your team can get work done.
  3. Put Yourself First – Your career matters, make sure you always look out for number one.
  4. Think Win At All Costs – So you step on a few toes, or cut a few corners. What matters is making your numbers.
  5. Seek First To Cover Your Butt – Don’t leave a trail of ineptitude. Cover your tracks.
  6. Micromanage – Don’t leave anything to chance. Your team is likely more inept than you. Watch their every move.
  7. Sharpen Your Knife – No time for sharpening your saw. Be prepared to go on the offense with naysayers. A little backstabbing never hurt anyone.
Your turn…what are your favorite inept leaders’ habits?

About The Author

Articles By karin-hurt
Karin Hurt is a leadership speaker, consultant and MBA professor. She’s a former Verizon Wireless executive with 2 decades of diverse cross-functional experience in sales, customer service and HR. She was recently recognized on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Speakers for your next conference, AMA’s 50 Leaders to Watch in 2015, and Trust Across America’s 100 Thought Leaders in Trusted Business Behavior.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Jen  |  06 Nov 2014  |  Reply

I have one to add: When engaging subordinates in a conversation, don’t listen to what they have to say–wait for your turn to speak. Watch closely for the first opening then take control of the conversation and don’t let go! Use ambiguous language and make strange, unrelated analogies to showcase your superior intellect. Also be sure to say a lot over lengthy stretches to assert dominance.

Karin Hurt  |  07 Nov 2014  |  Reply

Jen. LOVE IT. See that far too often. Thanks for expanding the conversation.

Chris Enstrom  |  07 Nov 2014  |  Reply

Don’t tolerate anything but perfection. Jump down the throat of anyone who makes even the smallest mistake; they are not learning & growth experiences, they are actually eating in to your bonus.

Darren  |  07 Nov 2014  |  Reply

Aggressively Show Your False Superiority
When you first meet your team, a new team member, or people your team will serve, showcase your greatness without regard to any value they bring. Call a meeting with the new team presenting on nothing but your awesomeness. When someone talks about their hobbies, turn the conversation back to you like you do with every other conversation. Tell them how you did it better and how better equipment that is too expensive for them will make all the difference. That way you come off as smarter stronger and richer. Don’t forget to be arrogant about other things, like religion. Tell them you studied their religion and found they are all the same so any choice is the same. This makes their beliefs commonplace with nothing special or respectable about them. And finally, be sure to let them know you would be better at running their family than they are. Keeping yourself false superiority front and center is the key.

Joy Guthrie  |  07 Nov 2014  |  Reply

Just yesterday Karin, I finished a graphic on what I called the “poor leadership vortex” that we’ll be sharing later this month. The top one I listed was “don’t listen to your team.” Really great post!

Steve Broe  |  07 Nov 2014  |  Reply

Nice post, Karin. I think you are onto something with your 7 Habits discussion, I would love to see you expand the 7 Habits of Inept leaders into a professional message for conferences and C-level presentations. I’m jealous that I didn’t think this one up!

Galen D. Bingham  |  08 Nov 2014  |  Reply

Extremely well said Karin. Without purposeful attention, it is easy for leaders to slip into reaction mode; leaving not so subtle messages for those who follow.

Annette  |  12 Nov 2014  |  Reply

Never respond in a timely way to text messages, emails or voice mails of your team members. You’ll get to their request or need in your own time if you decide you can fit it in…

Max  |  01 Dec 2014  |  Reply

They don’t really care about you calling them “inept” as long as they are anything but loosers.

Paula Kiger (Admin)  |  02 Dec 2014  |  Reply

Your example in your lead-in example really hit home with me. I have always struggled with looking less interested than I am in meetings (low blood pressure? who knows?) but it is frustrating to be perceived as inattentive. Thx for using an example I can relate to!

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