Smart Boss, Weak Leader, Do You Know One?

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Smart Boss, Weak Leader, Do You Know One?

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Do you have a smart boss who at the same time may be a weak leader? Could you be one?

They really aren’t that hard to find.

They’ve often been promoted because they are very good at their craft. Perhaps they are a master in their trade, a genius engineer, or an incredible salesperson. Yet, when it comes to honing the culture of the organization or team, they are completely clueless.

Intensifying the situation is that they often continue to achieve accolades from people around them who see them in this role of leader, but only from the technical aspect of the job.

Worse, junior team members may see supporting the boss as a powerful ticket to enhancing their own career.

This often boosts confidence in the boss that he or she is doing is exactly what is needed.

The reality check? The reality check may be that while their technical skills are exemplary their leadership skill has stalled the progress of the people who are relied upon every day to further the organizational cause.

The team is stuck. Performance is off.

Who gets the blame?

Smart Boss

In most cases the blame is passed downstream. “It’s not me [the boss], it must be you. [the employee]”

The opposing force of blame might be leadership responsibility. When leadership team members understand that no matter what, they are responsible, the dynamic shifts and the vision changes.

What are the biggest areas of breakdown?

Maybe it is employee dependability and reliability. Who owns that? Who made the hire? It is easy to suggest it was a bad hire, and while that does happen, is there any responsibility within the culture?

Maybe it is drama, end-runs, and breakdowns in the chain of command. Who owns that? It may be easy to suggest the persons engaged in such activity own it, yet the leader allows it to continue.

The patterns nearly always point to culture.

Who owns the culture? The best answer is, everyone. Everyone.

The communication, the behaviors, the actions and inactions, all point back to culture. The good and the bad, they’re part of the culture. Culture is not just about the good.

Leadership is a responsibility.

What is one of the most powerful traits of a smart boss, weak leader?

In a word, ego.


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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