Wednesday, June 3, 2015

What the Pope says about poor leadership

For this week's leadership PLC we are discussing an article about the 15 Diseases of Leadership, According to Pope Francis.  We are going to look at where, why and what forms these diseases take in schools, and how we can prevent or cure them.  While I'm likely to blog about our discussions tomorrow, I just wanted to take the time today to reflect briefly on what these diseases are, and comment on what I have noticed personally in my 25+ years in international schools.

  1. Thinking we are immortal or indispensable.  Leaders who suffer from this disease think themselves above others rather than that their job is to serve others.  They are characterized by a superiority complex and narcissism.  Some leaders actually cultivate being indispensable by refusing to implement a distributed leadership model to build future leaders - no wonder that when they eventually move on everything collapses like a house of cards.
  2. Excessive busyness.  Immersing yourself in work before and after work and at weekends - being "always on" and not taking a break.  To be honest I definitely do suffer from this disease - for some time I have been aware of an imbalance between work and the rest of my life (and yet I love my work - this is so hard!)
  3. Mental and emotional petrification.  This is found in leaders with hearts of stone who are paper pushers and lack compassion.  They have lost the human touch.
  4. Excessive planning.  A micromanager who lacks spontaneity and serendipity.  These leaders are wanting an easy life and are settled and comfortable in their own unchanging ways.
  5. Poor coordination.  Leaders who suffer from this have lost the sense of community.  The community is "an orchestra that produces noise" because the members of the community don't work together as a team.
  6. Leadership Alzheimer's disease.  Leaders suffering from this have forgotten those who nurtured, mentored, inspired and supported them in their own journeys.  They are therefore not likely to feel a responsible to mentor others who now work for them.
  7. Excessive vanity.  An obsession with and an inordinate pride in your own achievements.  Leaders suffering from this disease ignore the interests of others.
  8. Existential schizophrenia.  Being out of touch with customers and "ordinary" employees.  Living in their own world and losing contact with reality.
  9. Encouraging the terrorism of gossiping, grumbling and back-biting.  These leaders are cowards who lack the courage to speak directly, but instead become the "sowers of weeds".
  10. Idolizing superiors.  Such leaders curry favour to ingratiate themselves with superiors through obsequious behaviour.  These leaders are the victims of careerism and opportunism who think only of what they can get and not what they can give.  They are small-minded people who are inspired by selfishness.  Leaders in this position also try to obtain the submission, loyalty and psychological dependency of their subordinates.
  11. Indifference to others.  The leader thinks only of him/herself and loses sincerity and warmth.  
  12. Downcast face.  These leaders are severe and pessimistic (possibly because of feelings of fear and insecurity about their positions).
  13. Hoarding - the need to accumulate material goods in order to feel secure.
  14. Closed circles.  This is characterized by cronyism, where belonging to a clique is powerful. This is a way of enslaving the members and is an evil cancer in an organization as others are treated as outsiders.
  15. Extravagance and self-exhibition.  Power is used for material gain or to acquire even greater power.  To do that leaders suffering from this disease are prepared to slander, defame and discredit others - to lie to them and to lie about them.    People suffering from this disease believe the end justifies the means in getting to their goal.
Are there any other "diseases" of leadership that Pope Francis has missed?  Leave me a comment and I'll be sure to discuss these tomorrow and get back to you.

Photo Credit: eugenio ibiapina parente via Compfight cc

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