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leadership, Nolan Knight, SCMG, Scott Sensat

The Oxymoronic Leader

First we had the OxymoronicManager, then the Oxymoronic Employee and now we have the Oxymoronic Leader.
Oxymoron: A combination of contradictory words
Here are a few more examples of oxymorons… Anxious Patient, Government Efficiency, Once Again and Freezer Burn. As a leader, you are to clarify the win or the vision of the organization. Your role is to rally your employees to this vision. Therefore, you have to understand that your words and your actions provide the clarity. Unfortunately, many leaders are making the water muddy with oxymoronic activity. That is, activity that goes against what an effective leader should be doing. In this post we’ll cover three types of Oxymoronic Leaders.
Friendly Tyrant: Talk about an oxymoron. These two words are about as opposite as you can get. If you were to describe the tyrants of the last century and name some of their characteristics, one word you wouldn’t use is “friendly”. But when it comes to leading an organization we find that a large number of leaders fit into this category. This leader is very well liked by most employees while at the same time being very much disliked by his inner circle and/or executive team. He believes his friendliness warrants his commands. He believes he has pretty much “figured it out” and anyone who disagrees with him has an agenda or is out to get him. Even those who may disagree with him from time to time still like him. He’s friendly! When you cease to be fun to be around or disagree with this leader he will put you out of the inner-circle and no longer involve you to the same degree as in the past, until such time as you admit you were wrong and he was right. Is this you? Has this happened to you? Doesn’t seem so friendly after all, does it?
Superman/Superwoman Leader: Newsflash to the leader… You can’t do everything! The best leaders surround themselves with leaders and managers they believe are better and smarter than themselves. The best leaders know their strengths and play to them. They hire others to fill their areas of weakness. The Superwoman leader believes there are none better than her. She typically finds herself wondering why she can’t move the organization ahead. She wonders why profits and growth aren’t increasing at better than average levels. She doesn’t understand why she can’t attract great employees and managers to the organization. She wonders why people are quitting on her. As a leader you must understand that you don’t have all the answers. You need to surround yourself with people who will respect you enough to share and receive openly. You need people who will even disagree with you and hold you accountable to your vision. If your organization is stuck in neutral or is going backwards then you might be this leader.
Shortcut Victory: It’s amazing how often we see leaders that are continually looking for the silver bullet to success. They are always looking for the latest idea or fad to take their organization to the so-called “next level”. They’re hoping that best-selling book, the three-day seminar or the latest, greatest training program or gimmick will be the winning ticket. Jim Collins, in his book Good to Great calls this leader the Fox. Listen up… there are no short-cuts! Sure the guy whose retirement plan is to one day win the lottery just might win but it’s about a 1 in a 100 million long-shot. Same goes for the shortcut to victory leader or the so-called fox. One in a million may win… are you willing to bet your career and your organization’s future on the shortcut? It’s amazing how many are willing to do just that. Don’t be that guy. That guy either fails, cheats or gets plain lucky. Feeling lucky? Go to Vegas.
Here’s the deal… Oxymoronic Managers and Oxymoronic Employees can create havoc in an organization. They can delay implementation of ideas and innovation. They can cause speed bumps along the way. But be warned, Oxymoronic Leaders can be devastating. They can set an organization years behind of where it should be and can even be the death nail to being relevant, viable or even existing as an organization. Now, honestly look in the mirror and see if any of these leaders is you. It’s OK… the first step is to admit there’s a problem. The next step? Call us… Dr. Nolan is standing by!
Stay tuned next week as we discuss three more Oxymoronic Leaders.

About SCMG

Vision Implementers with strong opinions on Leadership, Management and Employee Development. Helping organizations and people “get it” for over 20 years. Visit our website at to learn more about us.


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