The dictionary defines absurdity as a thing that is extremely unreasonable, so as to be foolish or not taken seriously. “Absurd” is an adjective used to describe an absurdity. It derives from the Latin absurdum meaning “out of tune,” hence irrational. Absurdity is contrasted with seriousness in reasoning. In general usage, absurdity may be synonymous with ridiculousness and nonsense.
This month I want to talk about absurd leadership and I define it as extremely unreasonable, not to be taken seriously; ridiculousness or nonsense. Absurd leaders are unreasonable, so unreasonable that the organization doesn’t take them seriously. They lead in organizations where fear is the motivator to behave the same way the leader does.
Let’s explore the absurd world of leadership. I would like you to consider these 10 ideas describing absurd leaders in today’s world.
- The leader who believes they know everything. He or she is the only one in the organization who knows what they’re talking about.
- The absurd leader is the only one doing the talking. While the leader is talking, she or he is always in control.
- The absurd leader believes that controlling others is what leaders are supposed to do.
- The absurd leader believes the only person he needs to trust is himself. I once worked for a general manager who told his staff, me included, that he didn’t trust us. Then he told us not to take it personal! He went on to say he didn’t trust anyone and he would be making all the decisions. How absurd was that? Not only absurd, but dumb.
- Absurd leaders look to blame everyone else first instead of looking at themselves. What is it with people who believe they never do anything wrong? They often wonder why their organization doesn’t like them and won’t work with them.
- Absurd leaders believe they are good listeners. At times, I work with leaders who tell me their staff doesn’t talk in their staff meetings. When I ask who is talking, they tell me they have to or the meeting is a waste of time! What? When leaders are actually listening, the only thing they should be saying is “tell me more” or “help me understand.” They should keep using those phrases until the person talking feels they have been heard. Leaders need to clam up and let the people who know what to do, do the talking. Anything else is just well, absurd.
- Absurd leaders believe they add value to everyone and everything. Ever sit through a meeting, listen to a leader and then say to yourself, what did that mean, or what the heck was just said? Can someone please translate for me the absurd comments that were just made? One of my favorites is when the leader tells their staff they are available to help them and you can see the non-verbal expressions…”Oh, please don’t mean me. I haven’t recuperated from the last time you helped me!” “Please not again, go help someone else…PLEASE!”
- The absurd leader believes their values are better than anyone else’s. I love to watch leaders who are workaholics. They sacrifice their life for what – better pay, a title, or an office? How many absurd leaders have run their organizations into the ground, into bankruptcy? How many have told their suppliers to trust them while they are making plans to stiff them? How about those absurd organizations that convince their employees to invest in their stock six months before going bankrupt? What kind of leader does that to people? The absurdity is these leaders think they have higher values than their employees. Give me a break!
- I once worked for a CEO that showed up at our division with a new Mercedes 450SL on the day we were laying off employees! How absurd is that? He had no clue, no feelings, and no regret. He just wanted to let people know that he was more important than they were. Absurdity at its finest.
- And my last point about absurd leaders is they practice what I call leadership malpractice. They show absurd stupidity, caring only about themselves and not even thinking about others in their organizations. It’s all about them. How absurd is that?
The nonsense of it all is these leaders have people who follow them.
Now that is absurdity at its core. When will we stand up and say enough, no more absurdity when it comes to treating everyone with dignity and respect? Leaders should serve employees and help them be successful in life. Leaders must show people they care about them and want to help them. The time for absurd leadership is up! Stop following leaders who don’t treat everyone with dignity and respect.
Stop the leadership absurdity of today!
For a change of pace, you can look back on my May 2018 MoneyInc.com column: Treat Each Other With Dignity and Respect.