The 21 Laws Of BAD Leadership: How To Be The Best Worst Leader
Good Leadership Is Hard But BAD Leadership Is Easy
Let’s face it – being a good leader is really hard.
I was at a conference where John Maxwell said if you study leadership consistently, MAYBE you’d be a good leader in forty years.
Yep… 4-0. Not five or ten years. Forty.
That seems like a lot of work, doesn’t it? So what’s the alternative?
Well, we could all do nothing. Just stop growing, stop trying. I mean, why fight gravity?
So if you woke up this morning completely unmotivated, except by the thought of bringing someone else down into your misery, then I want to applaud you and share how you can slide even faster into the abyss of being a negative influence.
And you know what the good news is?
You don’t have to try too hard to be a bad leader.
We all have our flaws, our blind spots that we’re told we should work on. But if you don’t work on them, these character flaws will aid you very well in becoming the best worst leader.
A word of caution: If you’re really serious about becoming a bad leader, it will take some effort.
You can’t reach the bottom of the bottom without some real effort. Just as becoming a good leader requires effort, so does becoming a great bad leader.
Here’s how you can get started…
1. The Law of Judas
We all know who Judas was.
He was that guy who went down in history as the worst betrayer ever.
Betrayal with a kiss.
Learn from the best and create a backstabbing atmosphere. Often the worst betrayals come from the people who we think are closest to us.
So support, encourage and believe in your followers and then when they least expect it, pull the mat out from underneath them.
Believe me, this will spread pretty quick.
2. The Law of the Cage
You know what happens when you become the wind beneath someone’s wings?
They fly away.
And they’ll leave you with a big inconvenient gap to fill.
So make sure you keep your people’s wings clipped.
Never empower your people. Don’t provide opportunities for growth or learning because one day they might surpass you, which should never happen.
3. The Law of Egg On Your Face
Nothing stops people from risking like humiliating them in public. It’s like a pie in the face, only they never agreed to it.
Now, if you want to take it to the extreme, you may even consider bringing back the stocks.
During each meeting, you could choose someone who made a mistake that day (or the same person if they’re really on your nerves) and put them in the stocks for the duration of the meeting.
Feeling really inspired by the medieval ages? Provide the rest of your people with rotten vegetables (tomatoes work really well) to throw at the unlucky one.
Nothing pulls down team spirit like a big ol’ tomato in the face.
4. The Law of Two Faces
I cannot underestimate the importance of getting this one right — nothing undermines trust more than a lack of integrity.
Therefore, you must have none: lie ALL the time.
Get creative in the stories you tell, especially when talking about others. That way your people will have no idea what’s really going on in your organization or who to trust.
5. The Law of the Boot
This is a fun one and it’s very simple to implement. Depending on your personality, you may already find it natural to do this:
Whenever someone comes up with a new or good idea, stomp all over it.
Someone suggests some team building office yoga? Laugh at them and say that yoga isn’t really exercise.
Another suggests having a team member of the month award? Point out that there are no star employees to celebrate.
It’s really quite easy and almost any form of negativity will successfully squash your people’s ideas.
6. The Law of the Magnifying Glass
When your employees do a good job, be sure to find the one thing they didn’t do right.
I want to be clear that for this one, you don’t need to literally go around the office with a magnifying glass.
That might be a bit too gauche…
But perhaps if you want to bring back a fashion trend, you could wear a monocle and whip it out every time you examined work an employee finished and find the one mistake in it.
One benefit of using your monocle is that you’ll condition your employees to dread the mere sight of it (think of Pavlov’s dog).
SO many possibilities…
7. The Law of the Party Pooper
I think this is pretty self-explanatory. Don’t EVER celebrate your team’s victories.
That means no cakes, no rewards and definitely no high fives.
In fact, you may want to write in your policy that any employee who high fives another will be immediately terminated without severance or a reference.
If you want to celebrate, buy a cake just for you and blast out Queen’s “We Are The Champions” alone in your office.
But be sure to keep your door open a crack so each time your employees walk by they see you eating cake.
8. The Law of Surveillance
This law requires a bit more effort and this is where being intentional about being a bad leader comes in:
Micromanage every minute of every day.
It’s easy to micromanage some of the time, but to micromanage each minute that passes takes real intentionality. If you’re not careful, time slips away and before you know if mere minutes of opportunity has disappeared.
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Here are a few suggestions to make sure that never happens…
- Print out schedules for each employee that lays out tasks for each minute of the day.
- Be as detailed as possible when instructing your people how to accomplish tasks
- Meet with your employees as much as possible
- Hire an assistant whose sole job is to follow your people around and report directly back to you
- Install video cameras in your people’s offices so you can watch what they’re doing all the time
- Call to check in with them at random times throughout the day (and night) so they don’t become complacent and think for one moment you’ve forgotten about them
You may even want to start calling yourself big brother or big sister for a nice family touch.
9. The Law of the Monarch
One key aspect of being a bad leader is ensuring that your people know who is boss — and it’s not them.
You need to enforce the rules and policies of the organization judiciously.
Leave no room for positive personal growth stuff like failing forward or learning from mistakes.
Missed a project deadline? You’re gone.
Didn’t know that you’re not supposed to wear blue socks on Wednesdays? You’re gone.
Gave someone a high give? You’re definitely gone.
BONUS TIP: Purchase an antique sceptre or something to create a picture of more authority.
10. The Law of the Helicopter
This one is also quite easy to put into action…
Hover around your employees watching and waiting for them to make mistakes that you know they’ll make.
And keep in mind that there’s no such thing as hovering too close in this scenario. They should feel the heat of you breathing down their neck.
11. The Law of the Megaphone
Another great way to make your people toe the line is to shame them into doing what you want them to do.
I would suggest buying a megaphone for maximum impact.
Go around the office at random times with the megaphone and broadcast who isn’t doing what you want them to do.
For example, “I have an important announcement… John Smith isn’t folding the letters the way I asked him to. I want everyone to know that he’ll be in the stocks next meeting and so will anyone who associates with him for the rest of the day.”
This should be quite effective in curbing any type of free thinking or actions.
12. The Law of the Jack in the Box
As we discussed, one of the character traits of a good leader is integrity as this builds trust, so you need to avoid doing things that will cause your people to trust you.
In addition to being deceptive, you should also be unpredictable.
By keeping your employees guessing about what you’ll do or say, they’ll be on edge all the time.
Seeing your people jump around the office all the time like jackrabbits when you walk into the room could be quite amusing.
13. The Law of the Spy
You can make a game of this law…
Pretend that the people in your organization are different countries and are building alliances with each other. Your job is to spy on them to find out who is loyal to your country and who isn’t.
To enact this correctly, don’t believe a word that your employee says.
You may even want to interrogate them from time to time to really turn up the heat.
You could try the good cop, bad cop routine for fun.
14. The Law of the Dog
Once again, this is a simple one. The goal is to talk A LOT, like a barking dog. Especially when you’re explaining something to your employees.
If they don’t understand, look confused or make the unfortunate mistake of standing there for too long, just keep talking.
The more words you say, the better. Whatever you do, don’t pause long enough for them to ask any questions.
And when they look at you with a glazed over expression, you know it’s time to let them go and find another employee.
15. The Law of the Volcano
If you smell an awful stench, it could be the rotten eggs in the back of your fridge that you forgot were there.
Or it could be a nearby volcano.
Either way, a battitude (“bad attitude”) kind of smells like that…
Maintain a battitude and your people will be walking around on eggshells all the time.
In time, they won’t want to spend any time around you and will hide at the sound of your footsteps.
Ah, the power!
16. The Law of Ignorance
Do you remember in history how illiteracy used to be a lot more common? They say that history repeats itself… well, you could be the one that repeats history.
Keep your people ignorant and don’t let them learn anything new, otherwise, they might rise above you.
- Provide or fund any kind of professional development opportunities
- Bring in any good leaders to learn from
- Give them any books to read
- Allow any time for reflection
Who said the feudal system was obsolete?! Make your noble ancestors proud.
17. The Law of the Cat
This law is perhaps not quite what you might think…
You know how curiousity killed the cat? Well, you want to impress upon your team that curiousity is a negative thing because people who ask good questions discover good answers.
Don’t let them ask any questions. Don’t encourage curiousity. Don’t answer any questions.
You may even want to create a fictional pet cat who was extremely curious who one day met an unfortunate fate because of its curiousity.
Repeat this tale whenever an employee looks like they might be about to ask a question:
“Did I ever tell you what happened to my cat, Rosie…?”
18. The Law of Samson
Samson is kind of a fun guy. He’s kind of like a Greek god in the Bible — lots of hair, muscle and ladies.
One thing that he was particularly good at was revenge. When he discovers that his first wife was given to one of his companions, he burns down all of the Philistine’s crops.
Talk about food shortage.
Anyway, learn from this guy and always retaliate.
If one of your people does something, either intentionally or not, against you, be sure to take your revenge.
It will send a message that you are not to be trifled with.
19. The Law of Minions
Remember that you’re looking for people who will follow your every word, scratch your back or polish your shoes.
You’re not looking for employees who want to go out on their own or who have their own thoughts.
To make sure that you don’t encourage that, never trust your team with important decisions.
Give them menial tasks like:
- Ordering office supplies (but don’t give them the credit card number)
- Rearranging office furniture
- Picking up your dry cleaning
- Printing or photocopying documents
- Stuffing envelopes
And never let them attend any important decision-making meetings or they might accidentally be positively influenced by a better leader than you.
20. The Law of the Shipwreck
It’s your job to unsuccessfully navigate for your people.
So be consistent in providing them with the worst possible guidance.
You can do things like giving them outdated numbers about the business, telling half-truths about what’s happening, and just making up things about the competition.
Whatever you do, don’t share your vision or say anything that might motivate your team for even a second.
And NEVER, ever, allow your employees to tap into their “Why”.
Nothing motivates and guides people like understanding their why.
21. The Law of Molasses
Finally, ensure that this law sticks:
Make sure your people never get any momentum.
Be a momentum killer.
You can take a note from bureaucratic organizations to do this — make everything so complicated and slow that it’s simply impossible to get any real momentum.
And just when they think they’ve figured it out, introduce a new policy that takes that back to square one.
Become A Really Great Bad Leader
The truth is that not all of us wake up dreaming to make a positive impact on the world. And there should be a place for all of us.
The world can always use more bad leaders.
If you follow these 21 Laws of Bad Leadership, I will personally guarantee that you will be a bad leader.
And over time with diligence, you might even become a really great bad leader.
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