Draw of chess pieces


Your moment has come . . . you are now a leader! You have a desk, an office, and a name plaque to prove it!  

But beware! The question remains to be answered as to what kind of leader you will be… a leader who causes negative effects in the organization or a leader who brings positive change and direction to the organization. 

Solomon gave us some insight concerning leadership, and its effects on people, organizations, and nations.

He said, “A good leader motivates, doesn’t mislead, doesn’t exploit.”1 He went on to describe good leadership by saying, “Good leaders abhor wrongdoing of all kinds; sound leadership has a moral foundation. Good leaders cultivate honest speech; they love advisors who tell them the truth.”2 Solomon also pointed out that there are leaders in control of themselves, and leaders who are out of control when he said, “An intemperate leader wreaks havoc in lives; you’re smart to stay clear of someone like that. Good-tempered leaders invigorate lives; they’re like spring rain and sunshine.”3   

We can see from Solomon’s comments that there are different kinds of leadership; some positive types that will bring success, and some negative types that will bring failure. J. Donald Walters said that “Leadership is an opportunity to serve. It is not a trumpet call to self-importance.”4 When we think leadership is about the leader, then our understanding and focus is wrong. When leaders do things for themselves because they are the leader, it makes the people suffer and company resources are mismanaged and drained. The truth is, leadership is not for the leader; rather it is a for the benefit of the people and the success of the organization. 

Some leadership styles enable people to rise to new levels, and other styles suppress people to become less than they could be.

So a leader must choose what kind of leadership style they will use as they lead. As an individual you can choose any mentality, mood, or methods that you want—it’s your life. However, if you want to be successful as a leader, it’s no longer just about you; it’s about the company and the people involved. So a leader must choose a directional mindset, maintain good positive moods, and utilize sound proven methods of leadership. 

However, that is easier said than done. Leaders must constantly guard themselves against negative and harmful actions that undermine their leadership.

Here are 4 negative leadership styles or actions to guard against:

These negative leadership styles can best be described by using certain animals with certain characteristics.

The Ostrich Leadership Style

The ostrich is an animal that acts in several ways when facing danger; running, kicking, or hiding by lying flat on the ground and puts its long neck and head close to the ground.5 From this information, we can deduct that an ostrich leader will hide from the facts, run from responsibilities, is often overwhelmed and basically is in over his head. He is probably not qualified to be in the position he is in.  So these ostrich leaders will hide rather than face the facts, and really do not lead others or the organization in the direction it needs to go. But John Kotter said that the truth that an ostrich leader must learn is that, “Great leadership does not mean running away from reality. Sometimes the hard truths might just demoralize the company, but at other times sharing difficulties can inspire people to take action that will make the situation better.”6 

The Lobster Leadership Style

A lobster may be washed in by the tide onto the rocks but will not make an effort to crawl a relatively short distance to the water after the tides recedes. Instead, it waits for the tide to come back in to them, but that often does not occur in time for them to survive. Dr. Orison Swett Marden (1848–1924) once wrote, “The world is full of human lobsters: Men stranded on the rocks of indecision and procrastination, who instead of putting forth their own energies, are waiting for some grand billow of good fortune to set them afloat.”7 So the lobster leader is an indecisive, passive, and often fearful individual that procrastinates rather than intentionally doing what needs to be done. He waits for opportunities to come to him rather than pursuing them, and does not make the effort to lead himself, others, or the organization into the things they need to bring or sustain success. 

The Crab Leadership Style 

An interesting phenomenon often occurs in a bucket of crabs. If one crab tries to climb out of the bucket, the others will pull it back down rather than allowing it to get out of the bucket. By this we can define a crab leader as a kind of selfish, short-sighted, controlling individual who thinks according to the saying, “If I can’t have it, neither can you.”8 These crab leaders often pull other people down, control other’s input, take the credit or steal other’s ideas, and slander other’s reputation. Thus, these crab leaders do not foster creativity, give responsibilities, or allow others to get ahead of them or pursue their dreams, and the organization never reaches its full potential or output. The leadership reality that a crab leader does not realize is best expressed by Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, when he said, “Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. When people believe in themselves it’s amazing what they can accomplish.”9 

The Tiger Leadership Style

A tiger often roars to communicate with other tigers and also to paralyze its prey.10 A tiger leader often communicates in loud, bullying, pushy ways that paralyze other people within the organization with fear of making mistakes, of incurring the wrath of the tiger leader, or of losing their job. President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “You do not lead by hitting people over the head—that’s assault, not leadership.”11 People under a tiger leader often freeze in their creativity, productivity, or in their problem solving skills. Sadly, a tiger leader does not utilize the value of treading softly even though they carry a big stick, being supportive to the efforts of others in the organization, and fostering the creative ability within other co-workers.  

We must avoid these four kinds of negative leadership, and instead, develop our leadership skills and mindset to be one that brings positive and healthy direction to the organization.

Each person gets to choose what kind of leader they will be. One article lists twenty different leadership styles.12 So we can identify a number of distinct leadership styles, and many leaders often mix or utilize different styles as the situation demands. Louise Ledbrook said that, “Great leaders are those who know how to persuade others to take action towards specified goals. However, the style of leadership may vary considerably from one leader to another. It depends a lot on the values and ideas of a leader as well as on the goals and strategies of an organization.”13   

So what kind of leader will you be? 

As you read this article, could you see some aspects of your leadership that are positive and effective? What aspects, if any, do you need to change?    

Proverbs 16:10, MSG 

Proverbs 16:12-13, MSG 

3 Proverbs 16:14-15, MSG 

4 http://www.searchquotes.com/search/Leadership_Styles/2/ 

5 http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2006/11/02/1777947.htm 

6 http://www.forbes.com/sites/ilyapozin/2013/10/09/20-leadership-quotes-to-make-you-laugh/ 

7 http://180biz.com/blog/2015/04/30/are-you-a-lobster/ 

8 http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-the-crab-mentality.htm 

9 http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_leadership.html  

10 http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/12/001201152406.htm 

11 http://www.forbes.com/sites/ilyapozin/2013/10/09/20-leadership-quotes-to-make-you-laugh/ 

12 https://www.legacee.com/types-of-leadership-styles/  

13 http://projectcommunityonline.com/leadership-styles-choosing-the-right-fit.html 

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