I worked with a leader once who was a bit of a glory hog. Loved the accolades sent his way when his team won but was never one to thank the team for their efforts and performance. He was always there for himself and no-one else. So, we called him the Ungrateful Swine, but the Glory Hog may also have been apt.

Daily on an operational basis, our DL expected the team to be motivated simply for the glory of the ungrateful. The expectation was of high work performance of the team and there was never any acknowledgment from the leader let alone recognition. The crazy thing is that the team actually performed. They were a team of high achievers and were self-motivated to achieve and perform. They knew they were only under the leadership of the DL for a short period of time and most were prepared to stick it out in the hope that the company got wise and they saw the painful leadership he exhibited.

Unfortunately, they didn’t.

Coming to a Head

The DL won a national award, and this was where his acute level of dumbness was highlighted. In his congratulatory speech, he lauded those that perched on the corporate ladder and for those that steered the corporate ship. His team, watching on in the crowd, knew what to expect.  And that was nothing.

Towards the end of his self-congratulatory speech, and if suddenly overcome with the need to appear to recognize his team, he said thank you to his team. It was disingenuous, it was perfunctory, it was staged. And the team knew it.

Over the following three months, the team, that high performing team, started dismantling. Firstly, one member left after being passed over for a promotion. Leaving for a rival company, he decided that enough was enough, and was seeing if the grass was greener. It was.

The first escapee created an onslaught. Most of the team left within the next 12 weeks. Finally, tired of being taken for granted, most of the team applied for and accepted new jobs, in other companies and other divisions. The ungrateful leader was left with a mostly new team. Furthermore, he was set again to be paralyzed by his lack of social awareness and team recognition and continuing underperformance of his new team.

Accepting credit for work done by others is a sign of poor leadership. It is something that dumb leaders do. And it is something that will destroy your team.

Tips and Advice

One of the first things we must realise is that leadership is not about you! To lead purely, is to lead from the heart with a strong base of character that underpins it. Leaders that are in it for themselves, for the personal glory and accolades will ultimately fail due to the lack of loyalty and respect. The team will either leave or stop performing. The history of dumb leaders is littered with leaders who never thanked or recognised the efforts of their team.

What can you do, so as not to end up as a corporate corpse on the dumb leader highway?

  1. Dive into you with some serious self-reflection. Understanding yourself is a strong way forward for every leader. Trying to achieve the best for you and being ambitious is not a bad thing, but when it comes down to not supporting those that help you along the way is when it becomes dumb. No-one achieves success by themselves, but self-absorption may make you believe that’s not the case. Find out the story behind you. Were you passed over before? Is it part of your conditioning? Is it a fear of missing out? It could be a plethora of reasons, and you are recommended you discover the reasoning behind your behaviour. Its only then can we change the outcome by changing our behaviours.
  2. Repeat the mantra. “It’s not about me”. Every day on rising and every day before heading to bed, give thanks for what you have. This is a long-term project that won’t materialise overnight. A history of being driven by self, will not change overnight. Stay the course and look for the good in every day. Changing our approach to the world and filling our world with gratitude is a key component to our change of leadership approach.
  3. Look for ways to recognise and thank your team. However, this is also fraught with dangers. We must be genuine and authentic with our recognition and feedback. Non genuine feedback will be seen by your team as exactly that and will be a detriment to you and your team moving forward. As a leader, even a positional leader, you will need to influence your team. You will want them to put in effort and you will want to thank them for that.

As a leader or a manager, your team and the work they perform directly relates to your ability to influence and lead. Managers who do not invest in their team by thinking and recognising them, will always be working on two negative consequences. Constant churn and consistent underperformance.  Churn because the team members are constantly leaving you and underperformance because no-one wants to perform highlight in a place where they do not feel valued. When you thank and recognise your team on their work performance you take steps towards becoming a more effective leader.


Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash