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5 Characteristics of Weak Leaders

5 Characteristics of Weak Leaders

Is it better to be feared or to be liked?

Many believe that a good leader knows how to answer this question, and that he/she should answer it a certain way. If somebody answers “liked,” then it must mean that person is weak and doesn’t have the ability to make difficult decisions. But if somebody answers “feared,” then it means that the person is strong and capable of making the tough decisions that come along with leadership. Right?

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Wrong. It is exactly this type of binary mindset that is weak.

Narrow-mindedness

A true leader knows that being respected is better than being feared and/or liked. If a leader fails to recognize this, then he/she suffers from narrow-mindedness and may not be leader material. This quality is one of the many characteristics of weak leaders.

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Lack of Control Over Emotions

A good example of this is the way many Americans viewed Hillary Clinton in the months leading up to the Democratic presidential primary election in 2008. During an event in New Hampshire, Clinton shed tears while discussing the upcoming election against future United States President Barack Obama. The incident was caught on camera and broadcast on several news stations, dividing the public into two groups: people who believed Mrs. Clinton’s tears were endearing and showed courage, and people who believed her tears filled her eyes with cowardice and soaked her face in vulnerability. Obama won the primary, as well as the presidential election later that year.

Now, we are not necessarily declaring Hillary Clinton a weak leader. She simply serves as an example of the way displaying one’s emotions can change the opinions of the people.

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Poor Communication

If a leader is unable to communicate his/her mission to followers, then the odds of achieving that goal are slim to none. For example, Ron Johnson became the CEO of J. C. Penney in November of 2011 and the company fired him less than two years later in April of 2013. Johnson was previously successful as the Vice President of Merchandising at Target and the Senior Vice President of Retail Operations at Apple, but his success did not continue at his new company.

Johnson’s failure at J. C. Penney can be attributed to his poor communication skills because he was unable to explain exactly what his mission was and exactly he planned on making it a reality. Since he couldn’t communicate his revolutionary strategy to employees, the employees failed to communicate this plan to customers. So Ron Johnson’s rebranding effort ended up alienating core customers because they couldn’t understand why J. C. Penney was changing everything they liked about the store. The coupons and sales soon came back, replacing Johnson’s new policy, and not long after, the company replaced Ron Johnson as well.

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Hesitation and Second-guessing

Weak leaders tend to hesitate when making decisions, and some fail to stand behind those decisions after they have already been made. A good leader keeps an open mind, considers all different points of view, and makes decisions with confidence. Hesitation and second-guessing only lead to a lack of support from followers and ultimate failure.

Not Learning from Mistakes

The reason we learn about history in school is so that we don’t repeat the mistakes from our pasts. Of course, we must know and understand how and why we made these mistakes to avoid making the same ones in the future.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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