In my decades of leadership in healthcare, I have learned the hard way that not every person with a “C” in their title or who has been appointed to a board of directors understands what it means to lead. These deficient “leaders” are always looking for a magical solution to their organization’s issues, without considering that their insufficient leadership might be their common source. In turn, the inability to lead results in the leader deflecting attention from their deficiencies in performing their role by creating division among staff, diverting attention to nonessential issues or programs, and stirring up dissension.
Leadership by division, diversion, and dissension
Leadership by division
It is impossible for every team member to agree all the time in every situation. In managing my own teams, I know that anyone who always agrees with me is not telling me the truth or is not thinking critically about the direction our organization is moving. I am not always right, and I am always learning. Open conversation makes me a better leader and helps our organization achieve its mission.
Instead of creating a team where there is meaningful dialogue and professional disagreement, toxic leadership by division creates an us-versus-them mentality within the staff, labeling those who disagree with the leader’s philosophy, ideas, or actions as a danger to the health of the organization. This leaves no room for the respectful debate that is such a critical component of moving an idea or initiative forward.
Leadership by diversion
Unfit leaders never seem to be sure what direction they’re going. The truth is that it is very difficult to pursue an organization’s mission, vision, and values with excellence while also seeking to increase your own power and authority.