According to Ronald E Riggio – “Leaders range from the exceptional to the worst of the worst. While many bosses are competent, caring, and effective, it has been suggested that there are just as many bad bosses as there are good ones ”. Unfortunately, the world is becoming dominated with mortals who on average do not suppose to have business or ties guiding themselves let alone leading others. From political governance to theological assemblies, banking to health sectors, civil rights organization to educational institutions etc the foot marks of dumb leaders at one point or the other in leadership scope have left too many indelible marks that generations to come will bear the brunts. Syvia Lafair quipped “Ignorance can be educated, crazy can be medicated. What’s the cure for stupid?” in her articles on 3 Habits of Exceptionally Stupid Leaders. Events in our political space world wide no doubt must have spurred the need to ask “Are their stupid leaders among us? Are we led by idiots? Does leadership exist there or here etc” From growing terrorism taking lives in thousands spanning from ISIS in centric Arab nations, Boko Haram dominance in Northern Nigeria and growing inroad of herdsmen maiming in the South, ISIL in the Horn of Africa, to the drowning migrants at the Mediterranean sea enroute to Europe; escalating and endemic corruption among politicians like in Iraq, Pakistan, Ghana, Nigeria, Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico to the Child Migrant Detention crisis in US; the Hong Kong Protest on Extradition Law that has taken lives in hundreds to the pseudo-tyranny regime of long seated presidents like Museveni of Uganda, recently dethroned Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, Outlawed Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, solidified Paul Biya of Cameroon, José Eduardo dos Santos of Angola (35years plus) despite his wrecking health challenges still hoping for another term in office; the South African Parliament with her unending comic relief among the EFF, ANC while the Supreme Leaders of Iran and North Korea are are gods in their encased nations where human rights have been reduced to the brim, and none dare question the leaders!. The raging maternal and child mortality indices in India and Nigeria made one to wonder where are the health sector leadership and Billionaire administrators? The death toll on our roads, water and airspace in recent times cast doubts on the administrators competencies especially in Africa where governance has been shrunk to its ebb!!!
“What they do looks the same through the centuries” posits Syvia Lafair. According to Cicero, Roman politician and lawyer who served as consul in 63 BC postulated thus, “Any man can make mistakes, but only an idiot persists in his error.” Bad leaders turn their leadership errors to policies thus maintaining their cycles of failure. This is where we are today?
What is Idiotic Leadership?
Idiotic Leadership in actuality is not a classified form of leadership as annotated under the types of leadership vis-à-vis Democratic, Laissez-Faire, or Autocratic or Benevolent Autocracy as scientifically being advocated especially in
bureaucratic settings, rather it is becoming a form of syndrome-classified features of bad leadership irrespective of the atmosphere or recipients.
The essence of its influence either positively or negatively remains a mirage to scholars.
According to an extract from Wikipedia on the etymology of idiot “the word “idiot” comes from the Greek ἰδιώτης, idiōtēs ‘a private person, individual’, ‘a private citizen’ (as opposed to an official), ‘a common man’, ‘a person lacking professional skill, layman’, later ‘unskilled’, ‘ignorant’ from ἴδιος, idios
‘private’, ‘one’s own’. In Latin , idiota was borrowed in the meaning ‘uneducated’, ‘ignorant’, ‘common’, and in Latin it came to mean ‘crude, illiterate, ignorant’. In French ,it kept the meaning of ‘illiterate’, ‘ignorant’, and added the
meaning ‘stupid’ in the 13th century.”
While U.S. Academic Environments define
leadership as “a process of social influence in which a person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task “.
Invariably, it means the capacity to lead. Thus, a leader is any person who leads or conducts or directs the affairs of others.
According to Jazak Yus Afriansyah, leadership is classified using four dimensions: Behavior, Attitude, Influence and Results.
Meta-analytically, Idiotic Leadership or Idiotic leaders can be infer to mean a form of leadership where the leader lacks professional Leadership skills, ignorant, crude, distorted and officially epitomises idiocy in governance and exemplification of actions that conflicts with the ethos, behaviour, attitude, influence and results of the organization or institutions they represent. Though this is short of literature but the growing research on workers and followers perception to their leaders is opening a new annals in this aspect of leadership.
Types/Forms of Idiotic Leadership:
According to Ronald E Riggio there are four worst types of bosses to work with. They are:
Incompetent Bosses. This is a very large category ranging from bosses who lack basic managerial and leadership skills to leaders who constantly make bad decisions and alienate people. Psychologist Robert Hogan estimates that as many as two-thirds of all managers are in this category, mainly because of companies’ failure to give adequate attention to selection and promotion processes. These crops of leaders span the political landscape more than ever before due to the despotic system of our elections or military overthrow without the citizens’ consent.
Laissez-Faire Leaders. These are the classic “do nothing” bosses. Laissez-faire bosses show little or no initiative, avoid making decisions, and basically let the department run itself. There are a surprisingly large number of these types of bosses. Jacob Zuma the ex-president of South Africa has been epitomized as one of such leaders by the Parliament of South Africa before his regime was discountenanced.
Bully Bosses. Bully bosses target innocent workers by constantly criticizing, shaming and humiliating them. Bully bosses are all about control, and they were often bullied themselves as children. Workplace bullying has reached epidemic proportions, and a good percentage of them are in managerial positions. Our bureaucratic institutions are run averagely by brutes or individuals who see it as a way of subjugating their followers. According to the research work of Hampton D , Tharp-Barrie K, and Kay Rayens M
on Experience of Nursing Leaders with workplace bullying and how to best cope, their results include: Approximately 60% of participants experienced behaviours that can be categorized as bullying behaviours and 26% experienced severe workplace bullying. Confrontation, crucial conversation, leaving the organization and avoidance were the most frequently reported strategies for responding to bullying.
Tyrannical leaders like Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi, Kim Jong-un of North Korea and their allies in Turkey, Equatorial Guinea, Chad, Syria rule their nations with ironfisted approaches that abdicate citizens rights and privileges.
Toxic Leaders. Jean Lipman-Blumen defines toxic leaders as those whose “destructive behaviors and dysfunctional personal characteristics generate serious and enduring poisonous effects…on those they lead.” Toxic leaders are completely selfish and usually leave their followers and the company worse off than when they found them. They rule their subordinates with the fangs of weirdness.
The other forms of worst leaders that can be grouped as forms of Idiotic leadership include the ones identified by John Boitnott:
-The Passive-Aggressive or Micromanaging Boss
-The Narcissistic Boss
-The Power-Hungry or Machiavellian Boss
-The Psychopathic Boss
According to Scot Gregory, absentee leadership is becoming a concern in business world and thus can be grouped as a form of idiotic leadership.
CHARACTERISTICS OF IDIOTIC LEADERSHIP.
Isrealmore Ayiyor posits that “You don’t necessarily need atomic bombs to destroy a nation. Politicians who value their pockets more than the lives of their citizens always do that every day”. The attributes of such leaders are not necessarily hidden, in fact they are loudest than the nobles with results. Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) postulated 15 Traits of Terrible Leaders in Success Magazine:
1.Lack of Transparency: Lack of
transparency can result in a lack of trust thus affecting commitment.
2. Not Listening
3. Dismissing Ideas Other Than Your Own
4. Valuing Experience Over Potential
5. Ego: “The best leaders are the ones who accept blame when things go wrong and give credit to their team when things go right. In order to be a true visionary leader, you need to let go of your ego and focus on your people because without them you would be nowhere” Nick Friedman. Just imagine the actions of Iran Supreme leader Ali Khamenei that is becoming hazardous to his people despite warnings from United Nations or Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela who will rather allow his people to be starved to death to protect his proclivity for self ego. The list is endless.
6. Working 24/7
7. Lack of Empathy
8. Forgetting About Leadership Development
9. Being Overly Conservative
10. Permitting Negative Gossip: Most incidents of military overthrow or recorded tribal cleansing in political landscape all emanated from rumors or presumed conspiracy of dissidents followers. Organizational conflicts have been linked to sentimentalism by those in authority.
11. Poor Communication of Strategy
12. Closed-Mindedness: It’s crucial as a CEO to be open-minded and listen to feedback and ideas from others. Being closed-minded and unwilling to change your perspective will cause issues with both your employees and the success of your business (Josh Weiss)
13. Assigning Blame
15. Being Too Slow to Adapt: Successful startups grow rapidly. CEOs who fail to keep up risk being clueless, close-minded and arrogant. A lack of knowledge leads to indecision and fear and can cause employees to quickly lose trust in their leader ( Neil Thanedar). For instance, the two successive Government in Nigeria at the Federal level have seen the laters accusing their predecessors of being “Clueless” while the incumbent has been routinely tagged “Go-Slow”. Leaders must therefore adapt and adjust timely to the demands of leadership.
Factors that favours Idiotic Leadership
Though, there are different forms of leadership but in all, Joseph de Maistre once said, every nation gets the leadership it deserves. A lot of factors favours the possibility and enthronement of bad leadership in nations and different sectors. Some of these include:
Poverty: The poor can easily be bribed during elections to win their votes. After all, it is the impoverished, politicians used to perpetuate electoral fraud!
Greed: The quest for more resources made the despotic leaders to remain in power. Museveni of Uganda and late Mugabe of Zimbabwe.
Lack of patriotism: according to an extract from Michael Barry’s article on causes of bad leadership in Nigeria, Lack of patriotism: Another reason why Nigeria always had bad leaders, is the lack of patriotism on the side of most citizens. How many citizens put the nation first before self? How many leaders brainstorm about the hospitals, roads, schools before the gains of offices, dollarised accounts and free Estacodes?
Political hostilities and insecurities: Politicians create inorganic security challenges in order to remain relevant. Most hostilities are politically motivated and sponsored by its beneficiaries. The crisis in Democratic Republic of Congo cannot pave ways for the fair election or selection of effective leaders for good Governance.
Lack of effective laws: In most nations like Nigeria the elites are above the law even when they are subjected to judicial process, they will still escape the wrath of the law but the poorest among us are never lucky as such!.
Political apathy: Most Nigeria citizens especially the religious set see politics as a sin and a crime against God. Thus, such debate is a waste of their time.
Inheritance: Some CEOs are there because the organization was a family estate. Unfortunately, such firms easily crumbled because experience is not negotiable. Most religious leadership are not subjected to circular criteria
Effects of Idiotic Leadership
The ripple effects of growing Idiotic leadership are not too different from the bad leadership types we have. According to Managers quote “A bad manager can take a good staff and destroy it,causing the best employees to flee and the remainder to lose all motivation”. There is no end to what Idiotic leadership has caused our globe lately: it has worsened the prospect of climate change, made porous our ecosystem, piled up weaponry especially nuclear missiles, religious crisis, political upheavals and lately, ruined the cohesion that would have tamed the extrapolation of of Covid-19 Pandemics that has taken more than 750,000 mortals within the space of 8months. MARTIN CLOUTIER identify five main consequences of poor leadership:
1. DIFFICULTY INSPIRING
Never before has the integrity of leaders been such a source of concern. Because of scandals that have tarnished leaders around the world in recent years, leaders worthy of trust are more in demand than ever. Joe Biden Sexual Scandal amidst his Presidential aspirations;Trump–Ukraine scandal in the stormy Waters of 2020 defining election year.
- DIFFICULTY PROMOTING
ALIGNMENT… Such leaders build walls than bridges, due to their lack of managerial skills, underperforming etc. Boris Johnson’s brick wall of Brexit with European Nations.
3. DIFFICULTY GETTING BUY-IN
Whether formal or informal, influence is the cornerstone of leadership. It takes others to recognize leaders and confer that status upon them. Influential people use strategies to promote their ideas, get the merit of their positions across, convince others to buy in and put effort into their projects and encourage them to achieve results that allow them to have an impact on others and make a difference. To what extent can President Buhari Anti-Corruption mantra sell in the midst of pro-government officials financial scandals spiralling into billions of dollars and nairas?
4 DIFFICULTY BUILDING HIGH-
Leaders cannot go far on their own. They need to adopt management practices that allow team members to put their talents to use, feel like their efforts are important, make a positive contribution to achieving organizational goals and achieve success. Those with tribal, religious and nepotistic decoy can only gather the “yes ma, yes sir” crew around him or her. The best can’t be allowed to stay because of contrary opinion and leaders insecurity.
5) DIFFICULTY CREATING A
Everyone agrees that organizations that survive will be those that adopt collaborative work strategies that are effective, both within and outside the organization. To create a cooperative work environment, leaders need strong interpersonal skills that allow them to build bridges, maintain useful connections within their network, share information and resolve disputes. With growing rancours and lyrics of discordance, serene environment cant be guaranteed.
Increase in corruption: Due to lack of law and order or favouritism justice system.
Military coup: Governance recklessness provokes the men on khaki to enjoy the loot too.
Economic retardation: Nations general outlook is grossly backtracked due to under development, unemployment, poor prospects for the teeming youths.
Insecurities: This is no more news. Their nefarious attack is on both the children, youth, women and innocent people under.
Generational Impacts: With age catching up with the demystified leaders they have no choice but to leave the leadership space someday for the more wary young leaders. Unfortunately, the next generation are more sophisticated to commit worst idiocy than the outgoing bad influencers.
Physical Stress: The media space is awashed with the growing spate of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP). Many of them are struck with ill-health, malnutrition, disabilities etc.
SOLUTIONS TO IDIOTIC LEADERSHIP
The following recommendations will help to avert the continuous presence of idiotic leaders on our leadership landscape:
1)Education: Both formal and informal education helps the leaders greatly. On-the-job-training and conferences are essential towards enhancing peer reviews from others. It should be made compulsory for those that have the ambition to lead more than themselves.
2)Laws: Our laws should be as independent of any manipulation as possible so justice can be served fairly, justice and squarely.
3)Electoral frauds should be prohibited completely and offenders punished accordingly
4)Nepotism/Tribalism should be shunned completely because it won’t do the nation any will.
No doubt there are different forms of leadership, the growing spread of idiotic leadership cannot be over emphasized. Its wide spread, causes, types, characteristics, effects, and recommendations were judiciously ingrained in this Article.
From the foregoing, you are better positioned to answer: are we led by idiots? Would we be led by idiots?
F.N OJUNEKWU (RN)
A Nurse practitioner, writer, Sociopolitical Analyst
From Delta State, Nigeria.
All enquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org