Project Management

How to Be a Really Stupid Leader

In a delightfully sarcastic article for the PM Hut, the nuances of the stupid leader are revealed in all their splendid glory. By combining several traits from James Hopkins’ list, AITS was able to compile three scenarios that illustrate how to be a truly poor leader, no matter the organizational context.

Scenario 1 – Ego, Truth, and Success

A stupid leader walks into the room. They immediately begin to overstate their own importance without seeking outside reinforcement to back up their claims. Coworker A, bored of the self-initiated ego stroking, brings up a pressing concern about a time-sensitive project. The stupid leader dodges the alarm and downplays the risk. Hopkins explains the logic of this reaction:

…while many people call it lying, it is better to call it a redirection or deflection. When people ask a direct question, often they think they want a direct answer. The real truth is they want to feel good, and telling them what they want to hear avoids conflict. Don’t worry about them finding out later what really happened, by then they will forget who told them. 

Scenario 2 – All Talk, Demonize the Enemy, Take the Credit

The stupid leader is on another rant about their next successful initiative. Everyone knows there will be no effective follow-up. Yet the stupid leader is so consistent and frequent in their delivery that, well, maybe there’s some truth to what they’re saying? Suddenly, Coworker B politely disagrees and offers a different idea. For the stupid leader, it’s time to attack and discredit Coworker B, who is now the enemy. (Later, the stupid leader takes credit for Coworker B’s successful idea).

Scenario 3 – Selective Memory, Blame Others, Be Close Minded

At this week’s meeting, the stupid leader has built a fortress around their potential contribution. They conveniently overlook the flaws of their plan, citing only its inherent strengths. Miraculously, their plan is accepted in full, only to fail miserably due to the overlooked weaknesses. Conveniently, Coworker B (the enemy) is used as a scapegoat, and stupid leader avoids the blame. Way to go stupid leader. Way to go.

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