Functional and Dysfunctional Leadership

If you’re aim is to be an effective leader, you need to be crystal clear about the differences between functional and dysfunctional leadership. It all comes down to getting the right blend of confidence and humility. We consider leaders functional when they carry the right blend of confidence and humility. Conversely, we view leaders who are excessively one or the other as dysfunctional.

The leaders we most want to follow know who they are and what they stand for, yet are also gracious and not stuck up. The best leaders are centered, grounded, and nontoxic. They lead not so their power can grow, but so ours can.

Arrogant or Weak Leadership

When confidence becomes untethered from humility, arrogance follows. Arrogant leadership is selfish leadership, and arrogant leaders fixate on getting their way. Without the moderating effect of humility, confidence slips into conceit and self-centeredness. The self-centered leader loses sight of the very purpose of leadership: to improve the conditions of those being led.  Unless he gets his way, he will be irritable, combative, and controlling.

If confidence minus humility equals arrogance, then humility minus confidence equals weakness. Whereas arrogant leaders are selfish and insist on getting their way, weak leaders are ineffective, ceding the way to more dominant or persuasive people. Weak leaders lack backbone, influence, and ultimately relevance.

In the worst instances, weak leaders are useless. They don’t get things done. They don’t effect change. They don’t wield influence. Few things are as pitiful as an impotent and irrelevant leader. Nobody wants to be led by a wuss.

The Solution: Confident Humility

For our leadership to be assertive, decisive, and firm, we need to have confidence. For our leadership to be authentic, giving, and supportive, we need to have humility.  Confidence and humility are complementary and counterbalancing forces that fortify the potency of leadership.

When our actions are directed by confidence and humility, we are truly operating out of our best self.

The leadership ideal, then, is to become a leader who is both highly confident and genuinely humble.

You’ve gotten to this place when you respect those you lead equally as much as you respect yourself. What does a confidently humble leader look like? First, she is comfortable in her own skin. That comfort stems from the self-respect that seasoning and experience provide. She knows that she has earned her place. She has capitalized on the lessons she learned from all of the challenging experiences she’s had along the way.  Her self-worth doesn’t come from what others think about her; it comes from living in alignment with a value system that she honors and upholds. Principles matter to her, providing a source of strength and guiding her decisions and choices.

The confidently humble leader states her views assertively and constructively, not to trump others, but to add her perspective. When situations require, she can be forceful and direct, but never in a way that is demeaning toward others. To her, people are not objects. The people she is leading make her job meaningful and worthwhile, and their growth and development are how she assesses her effectiveness.

Being a fully functional leader means to match confidence with humility.

Excerpted from “A Leadership Kick in the Ass.” Learn more about my new book coming Winter 2017 by clicking here.

About Bill Treasurer

Bill Treasurer is the author of The Leadership Killer, Reclaiming Humility in an Age of Arrogance, which he co-wrote with Captain John “Coach” Havlik, Navy SEAL (Retired). For the last two decades, Treasurer has worked with thousands of leader across the globe, at such organizations as NASA, Saks Fifth Avenue, Lenovo, UBS Bank, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Learn more at: www.LeadershipKiller.com.

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