How to Lose a Team in 10 Days: Are You a True Leader?

“If you don’t like working here, I’m not going to force any of you to stay. Put in your transfer or resignation papers and I will sign them today and you can go work someplace else.”

My former administrative head to a room full of his peace officers arriving to work.

Spoken like the true toxic leader he was. Whether he was flexing the authority he possessed to move staff around the agency like chess pieces or inflating his ego by reminding his subordinates what an honor it was to work for him by comparing the privileged position we were all in to the millions of people who were putting in a hard and honest day’s work in the food service or retail industries, or any other professions he looked down his nose at, his approach always seemed adversarial and arrogant. To no surprise, staff turnover was high, staff retention was low, and staff morale had plummeted to all new lows under his lead.

But working for him was a learning experience, nonetheless.

Driving the workplace culture into the ground and obliterating your team’s morale should not be a point of pride. We all know or have worked with a manager like this before.

This was bureaucratic flexing, not leading.

So, to help identify the differences between a leader and a bureaucrat, please have a look at this list:

Leaders engage in leading.

Bureaucrats engage in politicking.

Leaders lead regardless of rank, position, title, or pedigree.

Bureaucrats chase title, position, and power.

Leaders strive to improve the workplace culture for their people.

Bureaucrats advance personal agendas at the expense of the workplace culture.

Leaders are people driven.

Bureaucrats are personally driven.

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” —John Maxwell

Leaders care about their people.

Bureaucrats care about how their people make them look.

Leaders sacrifice for their people.

Bureaucrats sacrifice their people.

Leaders service their peoples’ growth and success.

Bureaucrats service the bottom line.

Leaders make new leaders.

Bureaucrats collect followers.

Leaders create teams and value their people.

Bureaucrats flex their position and power and make people feel small.

Leaders are proactive.

Bureaucrats are reactive.

Leaders build relationships.

Bureaucrats build connections.

Leaders inspire people.

Bureaucrats leverage people.

Leaders inspire trust.

Bureaucrats keep their people in the dark and never show their full hand.

Leaders work with their people.

Bureaucrats compete with their people.

Leaders unify.

Bureaucrats are divisive.

Leaders cultivate innovation, talent, and creative thinking to improve the team’s output and success.

Bureaucrats harvest malleable, compliant, and subservient people who don’t threaten their authority.

Leaders help their people win.

Bureaucrats use their people to help them win.

Leaders retain their people and promote their advancement.

Bureaucrats inspire their people to look for opportunities elsewhere.

Leaders lead organically.

Bureaucrats manage through regulations and predesignated strictures.

Leaders attract high-value teammates because of how they treat their people.

Bureaucrats cycle low-value candidates using the organization’s surplus or reserve candidate pool.

Leaders hold themselves to a high standard and coach their people when mistakes are made.

Bureaucrats hold their people to a high standard and impose strict consequence when a regulation is broken. Their personal conduct is a matter of their own private business.

Leaders value people.

Bureaucrats value procedure.

Leaders are approachable.

Bureaucrats are unavailable.

Leaders are a part of the team.

Bureaucrats are above the team.

Leaders are adaptable.

Bureaucrats have little to no flexibility.

Leaders earn respect and show respect to their people.

Bureaucrats demand respect with written policy.

The dichotomy between good leadership and poor leadership is that you are either showing up for your people or expecting your people to show up for you.

“If you don’t like working here, I’m not going to force any of you to stay. Put in your transfer or resignation papers and I will sign them today and you can go work someplace else.”

Good leaders have one thing in common with this statement and one thing only:

They don’t force people to work with them, either. They inspire them to want to.

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