Can Bad Leaders Teach Good Leadership?

By |Published On: August 5, 2013|

An interesting question I’ve often considered is ‘Can we learn good leadership skills or traits from bad leaders?’ Well, I recently read an article on this very topic from one of my favorite business dailies – SmartBrief.

Author, James daSilva thinks, like I do, that we can learn both good and bad leadership skills and traits from bad leaders.  In fact, daSilva offers four questions one should ask when considering the advice offered by leaders:

1.  Does this person give good advice.  (Regardless of whether or not they follow their own advice)

2.  Is this person a good person, either in reputation or in how I regard him?

3.  Do I agree with this person or have a vested interest in defending this person?

4.  Do I have a vested interest in tearing this person down or an opposition to this person’s ideals or goals?

These seem like good suggestions to consider.  Thankfully, daSilva goes on to suggest that merely considering these questions alone isn’t enough.  We may have a vested interest in opposing someone’s ideals or goals but they may still have valid information or knowledge to share that we should consider.

My mind immediately ran to bosses I’ve had who may not have been the nicest people and famous (or infamous) people throughout history who we wouldn’t walk across the street to help but who may have had leadership knowledge worth considering like Attila the hun or Napolean.

Since leadership is about motivating a group of people to act toward achieving a common goal, we can learn about the art of leadership from both bad and good leaders.  The kind of leader we are, depends on what and how we choose to implement what we’ve learned; and more importantly, what traits and skills we develop over time and choose to share with our teams – because they are the future leaders.

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