Eleven Easy Rules to Quality Leadership: Machiavelli's Undiscovered Manuscript
by Lawrence E. Wharton

Certainly we have had more than our share of leadership admonitions from consultant pronouncements, books, articles, workshops, etc. New models and refurbished old paradigms are trotted out with unfailing regularity, a boom to consultants like myself who must, yet again, assist leaders in interpretation and implementation of the latest. And we have all sorts of leadership advice from the great ones: Jesus, Attila, Lao Tzu, Mother Teresa, Lincoln, ad-nauseam. But what we don't have is what it takes to be a REAL leader, the unvarnished truth.


Never admit a mistake. No problem, since you never make any. If some lunatic "thinks" you made a mistake, assist that person into another universe.




Always tell everyone what to do. Do not engage your staff in constructive conversations that use questions as the primary mode of interaction and developing ideas and outcomes. Doing this makes you lose face and encourages them to bring unpleasant news to you. Never, ever, ever state or imply you do not have THE (not an) answer, no matter how stupid it may be.




Never be concerned that you may be asking the impossible or the unreasonable. In fact, it is a good idea to do so as it keeps people motivated. Complainers are to be punished, preferably using public ridicule.




Under no circumstances consider all the facts, especially those that conflict with how you see things. Punish severely those who bring you such information. At the same time, tell people in no uncertain terms that you want all the information, even that which is difficult to handle. Make certain your boss knows of this notification.




Make sure your behavior contradicts the organization's stated values, but blame all around you (as frequently as possible) for such violations. Never under any circumstances ask anyone walking upright if you are modeling the organization's values appropriately.




Punish people for anything that upsets you, but make sure it looks good. Corollary: never under any circumstances question your own views, values (such as they are), motives, or behavior.




Never hold anyone accountable for anything, unless it looks like you are going to get into trouble. In that case, make sure it looks as though you have been holding this person properly accountable for years, or that, as a victim yourself, you had no way of knowing. Since your boss desires to avoid conflict as much as you do, he/she will readily accept your explanation. If you have a problem staff member or manager, reorganize around that person. Corollary: Always reward your friends and allies, no matter how awful their leadership/behavior may be.




Play the victim at all times when in trouble. This must be a staple of your leadership posture. Under no circumstances accept a victim posture from your direct reports. Savage them.




Frequently belittle/embarrass people in public, all the while stating with passion how respect must be the backbone of leadership.




Blindside everyone except those above you (misrepresent to them). This will keep staff in a state of uncertainty and fear, which will motivate them. Be sure to call people on things you never asked them to do.




The cardinal rule: This is all about you. Corollary to cardinal rule: Get recognition, rewards and promotions at all costs. Corollary to corollary: Never give anyone below you credit for anything. Take all credit for yourself.

Grand Finale: Never admit to yourself that any of the above is happening. Remain in a state of blissful ignorance.

Lawrence E. Wharton a partner of a leader behavior consulting firm (Wharton and Roi) that focuses on the connection between leaders' behavior and unit/organizational effectiveness. The firm has worked with clients such as Costco, Boeing, Oregon Dept of Health, The Oregon State Bar, Sharp Microelectronics, Portland Community College, The Casey Family Program, and many others.

Contact Lawrence E. Wharton, MBA at 3931 E. Skyline Dr. Tucson, AZ 85718, Phone: (520) 577-0823, Fax: (520) 577-3644, e-mail: whartonl@mindspring.com and visit http://www.wiseleadership.com/ .

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Copyright 2002 by Lawrence E. Wharton. All rights reserved.

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