Training Room: Leadership Habits: Do's and Don'ts-Part II
By John Kanengieter and John Gookin
Reprinted from The Leader, Fall 2000, Vol. 16, No. 1
Leader's log: Day 13-Having a difficult time "motivating" anyone
in this group. They are all so unresponsive
to my calls to action. Day after day, I give
feedback to the individuals for improvement
and yet they don't seem to see the value of
my coaching. Tonight when I offered a suggestion
on how to make the dinner better, Mike who
was cooking, blew up and stomped off like a
child . . . I don't get it. Tomorrow I'm going
to have to get the group together and critique
this group with some hard feedback. It's time
for some tough love! I hate this trip . . .
I can't wait for it to end. End log.
In the last issue of The Leader, we looked at some of the simple
and positive leadership traits that help you accomplish
group goals. In this article as part II of Leadership Habits,
we look at the common faux pas of leadership that so often
can send a group into a downward spiral of development and
teamwork. As you look at the following list, think back
to the last trip or event in which you may have been a leader.
Does anything sound familiar?
Offer useful advice after the fact. Wait until you've
already crossed the raging river to point out the Forest Service
bridge just around the bend on the map.
Offer picayune advice as soon as someone starts their
plan. Like when someone is in the middle of hoisting
the world's heaviest pack onto their back, say "I would
have put my other arm in first, then I would've blah blah
blah." This is most effective if you can start your
statement immediately after they're committed and finish
it before they complete the task.
Suggest tasks for other people to do. Suggest that
someone other than you could initiate some group task. Be
prepared with a reason you won't be able to do it.
Critique the cooking you didn't help with. Say things
like "I would have added a little dill, if I were you
but I don't think you guys brought any."
Dwell on moot points. Say things like "You know,
if we had tents instead of flies, we could set them up over
here." Carry on about this theme for a while to really
waste people's time.
Offer constructive criticism when you need it more than
they do. Say "I would back up that figure eight
knot if I were you" as you free-solo past them.
Deceive folks for their own good. You could tell them
it's an hour later than it is so they'll move faster in the
morning or you could hide the cocoa in your pack to help conserve
Get people too focused on minutia. Have people so
focused on not dropping poppy seeds off their bagels, they
leave their fuel bottles behind when they move.
Always stick to the plan. If people say they're going
to do something, make sure they do it, NO MATTER WHAT!
Reinforce criticism. Try to repeat criticism with
a new spin for every learning style, so they'll hear it at
least once in the method of their preference.
Dwell on mistakes. After you've pointed out an error
and the person corrects the situation, continue offering the
same constructive criticism to reinforce their learning.
Help folks refine their apologizing skills. Point
out imperfections in apologies to these people who obviously
need to apologize frequently.
Embarrass people, publicly. Begin with a phrase like "Don't
let this bother you, but..." and then dagger the individual
in front of her/his peers.
Invalidate others' emotions. Turn to your friend and
smile, saying something like "She sure is cute when she's
angry, isn't she?"
Practice perfect equality. Make sure everyone watches
the water boil, so it's equally fair to everyone.
Talk to people like they are in kindergarten. Talk
sloooowly. E-nun-ci-ate. Use simple words. Ask them to recite
key phrases. Talk to them like they are stu-pid.
Make people feel really stupid. Say "Duh?" when
folks waste your time by telling you things you already know.
Let it all hang out! Let people know what kind of
day you are having by using primal screams, barking at people,
or talking within inches of someone's face while your veins
and eyeballs bulge.
Be really open. When people ask what's bothering you,
start with some basic childhood problems of yours, move through
adolescence, bring up some current relationship hurdles you
are dealing with, then taper into your hemorrhoid irritation,
sexual tension, and general emotional state.
Blame the weather. Say things like "We had a
great plan but a fluke storm caused us to get wet and cold
and it's the stupid weather's fault we had such a bad time."
Blame other people. Say things like "Like I don't
know what his problem is; I didn't MEAN to let go of the rope.
He must be having a bad day or something. He didn't even bleed
when he fell and he's whining like a baby!"
Blame the map. Say things like "The stupid map
doesn't even show that 39 foot cliff I walked off of!"
Blame the gear. Say things like "I had my grandfather's
old jacket and the darned thing leaked. It ruined my trip!"
This started as a list from a NOLS Staff forum. Thanks to
the instructors who contributed. JG