Why are we experiencing the “Leadership-less Syndrome” ?*
We find ourselves immersed in a society and with companies with many incompetent leaders. I believe this happens simply because we only learnt to "praise the book by its cover", and let someone else read it for us. Do you think it is time to learn? I believe so. We are the only ones that can (and must) change this stagnation.
I do not know if I am the only one here, but I have observed a strong tendency of mediocre leadership around the world. Of course it is not the rule, but "wow" we have a bunch of cases worth to be studied.
It seems that many people admire the shallow and we let ourselves be blind by narcissism; many people praise sociopathy (without noticing), and appreciate superficial and immediate reward satisfaction, which leads to poor choices.
In companies, in society and interpersonal relations, we are experiencing a massive crisis in values de-construction. We are witnessing the creation of numbed brains, which are easy to manipulate to the convenience of the “bad guys,” those guys that do not want people to evolve. Because, in the status quo, it is better to manage interests to their benefit.
We, therefore, limit ourselves to believe what is given to us (the book cover), and we are paralysed in our comfort zone with an immediate satisfaction reward.
According to the Cambridge dictionary, the word “syndrome” means a combination of medical problems that shows the existence of a particular disease or mental condition.[See Cambridge.org]
According to Simon Sinek, engaging Leadership speaker, the word “leader” doesn’t have a clear and standard definition. “ Creating a ‘circle of safety’ is what leaders ought to do. Leaders set the conditions for trust and cooperation. Get those conditions wrong, and the opposite will occur: cynicism, paranoia, mistrust and self-interest. Leadership is a choice, not a rank.” Extract from his TED2014.
According to my views, the word “less” in this whole word game represents the presence of several disorders or mental conditions that produce the absence of true leadership, while pretending there is one in place. Illusion.
We are in the presence of an absurd leadership crisis. All because we have not explicitly identified “who” a leader is and how should behave. This happens basically, because we, ourselves, do not know what values we need to find in a leader.
For the sake of example, let’s reflect a bit together. What are your values? How many aspects of your life resonate in those values? Life? Relationships? Work? Your community? #foodforthought.
Generally speaking, we can observe 'leadership-less syndrome' in people with power, no matter the amount of power they have. Hubris is a clear facilitator of 'leadership-less syndrome.
Overconfidence is the essential key to “leadership-less” and this is proven in several studies, which demonstrate that the highest-paid CEOs, those most awarded, are the ones that have little impact in the performance of their company. [See Forbes 2016].
The same applies to society leaders. This is ridiculous. There is no need to go deeper with the current examples we are all witnessing nowadays: lack of trust in leaders decision’s, crumbling economies, media manipulation, Mother Earth suffering, climate change, and the list goes on.
The illusion of control is the CEO’s best friend.
From my point of view “Trading on the perception of success” is the manipulative tool by which “leadership-less” agents accomplish their goals.
How could we stop this? I invite you to learn to doubt. To learn to question with respect, when something doesn't feel right. It is a simple way to trust your gut-feeling.
Let me share a short story: I used to have a colleague, who “traded” the success of the office he was managing by using a confusing word salad speech during performance reviews. He sounded extremely smart and his statements were believed. This way of talking allowed him to always land on his feet, even when the office produced a loss for consecutive periods. How did he do this? Oratory, the art of using words that comfort the audience. What we call in simple terms, manipulation. And of course! a lot of charisma. But numbers do not lie, and people started seeing this. So, this person slightly changed the methodology into gaining allies to fabricate highlights of the company performance. These, while real, were not essential to the KPIs and goal achievement process of the company. Thus, attention diffusion.
The mental pollution that this “leadership-less” behaviour creates is a recurrent case in my practice, where frustrated, confused and stagnated people come to find their inner voice and understanding for their situation (it is not a surprise to see so much burnout and stress related problems coming from work environments).
In other words, they come looking for empathy for their talent and value. They are looking for the leader that they don’t find in their workplace. Is this a wake-up call for leaders?
I have been asking myself this question for years: Why (on Earth) do companies and governments keep hiring, developing and promoting narcissists and sociopaths into leadership positions?
Can someone explain to me why? Is it because these personalities are able to produce more profits due to the lack of morals? Are these companies aware that they sacrificing the well being of their own workers for the so call success of their business?
I need answers.
I strongly believe that we are immerse in this confusion because we don't have a clear understanding on where and why we need to take a certain path.
To combat this stagnation, we have to learn how to connect. To feel comfortable in our skin, to be more authentic, to click with our purpose, we need to re-calibrate our mindsets towards the strengthening of our essence.
This step might be the first one on the right path, where perhaps we start creating new paradigms with more humane models to imitate and replicate and where new leaders - who align with our new societal needs - will inevitably emerge.
The ball is in our court.
*Originally published on April 2020
Vicky is a qualified Branding Consultant, Business and Leadership Coach, Speaker and Author with certifications in NLP and TimeLine Therapy® and Magna Cum Laude from Solvay Business School in Brussels, Belgium. With her universe of words, she is on a quest towards helping leaders reconnect with themselves, thrive and move towards an exemplary leadership world.
Her 16 years of MarCom experience in International Branding and Multicultural Leadership have taught her how to bring beauty out of chaos in any organisation and people's professional lives.
Her findings within the fragmented leadership, have moved her to start working towards a more authentic business world and more humane leadership culture.
Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org