The Showroom

Why 'Lone Ranger' Managers Are Lousy Leaders

August 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Dave Anderson - Also by this author

Some leaders turn themselves into martyrs. They think if they want something done they might as well do it themselves. They take pride in making all the decisions, coming up with all the ideas, and doing all the 'big jobs' personally rather than delegate them. These lone ranger leaders believe that because they carry such a load they are indispensable and have great value. Just the opposite is true. Leaders who make all the decisions, come up with all the ideas and carry the load themselves are the weakest of leaders and here's why:

1. One reason a leader would assume a lone ranger mentality is if he or she had not taken the time to teach others to think for themselves, empower them to act and decide, train and mentor them to grow personally. But these tasks are the highest callings of leadership and leaders that shirk them are selfish, limited and weak.

It takes a strong leader to push power down the ladder instead of hoarding it at the top. It takes an unselfish leader to invest time, money and resources in the development of others.
Lone ranger leaders are typically micromanagers and oftentimes they will grow their company - to a point - because micromanagement does produce success, but it is limited and only in the short term. However, because they fail to grow others, they ultimately limit their team, their organization and themselves. They fail to grow and plateau and so do the people and organization they lead.

2. The second reason a leader becomes a 'one man show' is because the people around him or her aren't competent and unworthy of empowering to act, make decisions and share the load. This, too is a sign or severe leadership weakness and solely the leader's fault since he or she is responsible for building the team, training them, creating an environment where they can succeed, setting expectations and motivating them to become more and do more.

It's time for weak leaders stop believing that the measure of their success is how much they do, how far they go and how much they get. A much truer measure of a leader is how many people he or she takes with them on the journey.

And if you have one of those bigger-than-Texas egos and think you're indispensable, just leave. My bet is when you drive by your former workplace in a month, six months or a year from now, it'll still be there. As Charles de Gaulle said, "The graveyard is filled with indispensable men."

Since you are dispensable, I suggest you build an inner circle of leaders, invest in them and hand off as much as you can to them because great leaders want to be succeeded, not needed. They know the only way to be indispensable is to become dispensable.

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