Shock Horror


OK, so the headline is there to attract attention, but attention-seeking aside, I do experience both those reactions, of shock and of horror, when I recall certain leadership practices I’ve witnessed in education.

My preference is to describe what effective leadership looks like, which I’m currently doing in some more sustained writing, but for this format, some quick examples of the not-so-effective behaviours. And although there are similar elements in each, to differentiate, the shock behaviours have taken me by unpleasant surprise; the horror behaviours have disgusted me.

Shock leadership behaviours:
Shouting at others, children or adults
Speaking rudely to staff at meetings or in public forums
High-handed dismissal of others’ views
Lack of knowledge of ‘core business’
Running rambling, aimless meetings
Lacking empathy – words without meaning
Taking up all the talking space and time
Miscued attempts at humour
Disregarding past achievements
Being invisible at key times

Horror leadership behaviours:
Using power to coerce others
Undisguised bullying
Confusing respect with fear
Making decisions based o one’s own ignorance
Creating a personality cult
Retaliating when the  leader hasn’t been successful
Lack of transparency and openness
Seeking victory rather than resolution
Making promises with no intention of keeping them

Sadly, these examples are not fictional. Admittedly, they are from my perceived reality; however, I suspect I wouldn’t have been alone in my reactions. It comes back to the basis of all practice – a fundamental belief in ethical leadership and all the behaviours that necessarily flow from that belief.


2 responses to “Shock Horror

  1. Could I add two more horror behaviours – failing to listen with attention and re-shaping/re-phrasing the contributions and questions of a speaker to a preferred format that suit the listener. This is all part of disrespecting another individual and the contributions they might make.

    • That reshaping one does ring ‘horribly’ true and can be incredibly frustrating for the questioner/listener. I suspect it can be a somewhat ‘politically-driven’ approach – although perhaps sometimes a question just not understood.

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