(12a) Good versus bad leaders

What is a good leader?

For me, a good leader is someone who employs people, treats them correctly and with respect and pays them well for their work. Someone who, during an economical crisis, fights to save the jobs of his/her people. However, he/she is not afraid to fire those who are not willing to work because he/she has to think about the wellbeing of the company (it is not a charity) (although firing bad employees has become difficult nowadays because unions now even defend bad employees to gain members and thus loose support of good employees who are also often victims of the bad ones as they often have to correct the work of the bad ones). But when the manager notices someone does his/her best but is not up for the job then a good leader will try to find something more fitting for the person. He/she will also stop employees behaving badly towards weaker members of his/her group because that will result in a bad work environment and thus less productivity (thus he/she can be tough against unfairness). In doing so, both benefit: the employees who can do their job well and the boss who gets a good return.

A good leader will also notice what may bring the company's downfall and reorganise the organisation to prevent its collapse (e.g. the development of a certain product is too expensive and doesn't look promising, draining too much of other more promising developments, then he/she will concentrate more attention to the promising bits). Thus a good leader will try to prevent problems occurring, and does not need to solve problems afterwards. A good leader sacrifices his/her own income if this may help to save the company (or country) and the jobs of his/her people (as many (self-)employers do) and as a result this leader gains the respect of people and thus people are more willing to make sacrifices themselves for the company. E.g. in the past, bosses would often built houses for their employees to improve their living conditions (nowadays we say it was not for the people but for the company to control its the employees (indeed, it is a two-way situation).

One can compare this leader with a shepherd who is prepared to travel long distances and thus stay away from home for a longer period to find good grass for his/her sheep. He/she may risk his/her own life to save a sheep from danger when he/she thinks there is a possibility to save the sheep, although he/she will sacrifice it when he/she thinks saving one sheep will endanger the other sheep. In return, he/she has friendly and healthy animals, producing lots of good milk to drink or eat (e.g. as cheese) and producing lots of good quality wool that can be sold as wool or clothes, and with the profit the shepherd can buy other things he/she likes.

What is a bad leader?

For me, a bad leader is someone who is hated and feared by almost everyone and who doesn't thrust his/her own people although he/she will have his/her admirers. This leader treats the employees badly and will always demand them to work more to make more profit, claiming no-one works as much as him/her. That is also often the reason why he/she does the job: not for the fun but to earn lots of money, even when that means cheating. This person is moody and shouts at people, even when they do a good job. Many of these leaders will only think about themselves and will always try to improve their own position, while they damage other people's career when those people are considered to dangerous for their own career. This type of leader is not afraid of "making tough decisions" i.e. firing people indiscriminately including good and bad workers, even whole divisions or companies (and thus people may loose their house), as long as profits and own wages and bonuses go up. The bad leader receives admiration from other bad leaders because the company produces instant profits but is despised by the majority of the population. Nevertheless, this leader will get support as long as the situation is good. This leader will also not mind fierce competition amongst his/her employees whereby only survivors remain (while softer but very good employees may leave).

One reason why a person may become a bad leader is because employees always questioned his/her decisions. Often these leaders are considered as too nice and thus weak and people think they can ignore their boss, making he/she looks like a fool. The result is the boss becomes angry, starts to mistrust his/her employees and often he/she wants revenge while he/she notices that when he/she is aggressive to the employees they will do what they are told to do and thus the boss starts to mistreat the employees. These bosses are often sensitive and can become really terrible because they want revenge for their own mistreatment and that is very negative energy. Many women or gay people are in this situation, other ignored and considered weak until they become "the bitch" (or they leave because they don't want to become "the bitch" but this is more difficult during a crisis when unemployment is high). Recently, Mrs Gillard, PM of Australia showed her anger over the fact that, because she is a woman, she is often ridiculed even when she makes good decisions. Thus, these people can become bad when there are no laws that protect them from people who abuse them.

Other people, mainly men, find it important people see they earn lots of money and they dare to make unpopular decisions. Often they do this to impress their friends while they don't (really) mind what others who are not their friends think about them. These people will mainly work for themselves. Often they are insecure who want to be accepted by other successful guys, and often they fear that when they show their weaker side people may make a fool of them.

The only good thing about a bad leader is that when people leave they will often appreciate another kinder leader and serve him/her better, certainly when they know they were responsible for the change in character with their previous boss. Other times, people became so misprogrammed they will consider a good leader as a bad leader who is too soft and doesn't think enough about profits while they don't understand the company may have a much longer chance of survival because of the positive atmosphere.

One can compare this leader with a shepherd who doesn't like his sheep (maybe he/she was ones bitten by one) and thus doesn't want to search for good food for his sheep. He/she prefers to eat the best sheep (and feeds that sheep good food as it is for him/herself) and thus less healthy animals remain who produce less milk and wool at are also of poorer quality but at least the shepherd had now a nice meal. He/she will mistreat the sheep and yell at them, therefore the sheep are less likely to behave in the correct way as they don't know what the shepherd wants from them and the think he/she is panicking. He/she will run away to save him/herself when a sheep is in danger, thereby endangering all sheep and maybe loosing everything. Or he/she tries too save one animal because they want everything, therefore loosing everything.

Good versus bad employees.

Of course, there are also good and bad employees and they will have an effect on the leader and the group as a whole.
  • Good employees will make suggestions to improve the organisation but will implement as good as possible what has been agreed. They will help colleagues and managers when needed so the company is prosperous. When they don't agree with the policies of the company, they will try to find another job that is more in agreement with their own needs without sabotaging the company.
  • Bad employees will criticise the structure of the company without making suggestions on how to improve its working. They will only do the minimum and try to flee their responsibilities. Often they bully others at work, therefore creating a bad atmosphere and as a result many people come and go because few like to work at the company.

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