Failed Leadership: Etched In Stone

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I recently posted “What Does It Take To Be A True Leader“. Today I want to shift gears and discuss the converse — a clear example of leadership failure.

An effective leader understands the importance of surrounding him or herself with good people, and more importantly of making sure that the team is given appropriate credit for their involvement. When a leader monopolizes the limelight, it is insulting and demoralizing to his or her team. It also discourages them from giving their best and discourages them from participation in other projects. Finally, it diminishes the leader’s stature to non-team members.

For those of you who read “My Newest Project… And Its A Big One“, you know that I am running for Mayor of my Village and that the election is March 15th. You also know that the incumbent (despite shortcomings) has an impressive accomplishment under his belt — acquiring and building a magnificent park for our Village.


However, the incumbent diminishes his crowning achievement by consistently taking full credit for it. He often omits mentioning his fellow Board members. He often omits mentioning the Civic Association leaders. And he often omits mentioning the dozens of residents who served on various Park committee.

Indeed, one year after the Park’s opening, the Mayor arranged for a metal plaque to be etched and affixed to boulder. As you can read, the Mayor’s plaque is essentially an homage to himself. Despite the fact they were tirelessly to make this  entire project a reality, the Deputy Mayor and Trustees are anonymously referenced and only in connection with approving re-zoning. The 23 committees chairs are also mentioned but again briefly and anonymously. The vast majority of the credit is bestowed to himself.

There is nothing wrong with memorializing your success. But a true leader will never do so at the expense of his team. A true leader will go out of his way to share the praise. Indeed, great leaders will sometimes not even take the “stage” when given the opportunity allowing instead his or her colleagues to get the credit.

I can’t help to conclude that the many dedicated residents who helped make our Park a reality are reminded of being overlooked every time they pass this plaque dedicated to “the founder”.

What type of leader are you?

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