Home > Leadership, The Monday Musings Column > on why good teams can  emerge around bad leaders

on why good teams can  emerge around bad leaders

There is a lot written and taught about good leadership being behind the development of good teams and I have contributed my fair share. But is a good leader essential to the creation of a good team?

In my experience it isn’t. If fact some of the best teams that I have been a member of have grown under the leadership of complete incompetents, so let’s have a look at how that happens.

People who enjoy their work tend to believe in their employer as an entity. They might like the customers, their colleagues, the pay, an easy commute, nice working environment amongst other things or any combination of factors. Very few people come to work to do a bad job. Yes there are those who are not too good, but the majority want to do at least a decent performance with a few who want to excel. 

The same applies to the leader, but that person can be under all sorts of pressures that affect their performance. Some may be over promoted, others may have been put into a job to challenge them or possibly because they were due for a step up and this was the only opportunity. Poor leadership can have many causes.

When you get a team that is stuck with a poor boss one option for them is to work around the problem. Having a common cause is a great source of bonding. It is what a good leader will be trying to engender and I have used a sense of adversity at times to fire up a team. I learned about it in teams where our leader was not up to scratch in some way and the rest of us ganged up to fill the void. There is a tremendous satisfaction in rising to the challenge and whilst the boss will get the credit and, probably, a bonus the team have the satisfaction of knowing that it was them who delivered.

It is a strange phenomenon and a downside to it is that it buys time for the one person who is underperforming. It means that you are potentially stuck with them for longer and, if they can see, or understand, what is happening they may do their best  to block any movement away for their team. Life can be hard at times, but there are occasions when the fact that the team are delivering takes away whatever pressure that was holding the boss back. If you can get them to trust you and let you help bring them into your circle then things get a lot better all round. Of course there are also times when your team performance makes a dud boss look so good that they get promoted away and become another team’s problem. I’ve seen that too.

So if you find yourselves working for someone who is not that great at leading you can up sticks snd leave, but another job may not be easy to come by. So you have a choice; you can moan and groan and loathe going to work or you can band together with your colleagues and try to make the best of things. 

Choosing the latter course will, if you pull it off, show how good a leader you are and you never know, someone upstairs might just spot that talent.

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