The Grey Chronicles


Ten Signs of an Incompetent Leader

Chris Ortiz is a senior lean consultant and the owner of Kaizen Assembly. He authored 40+: Overtime Under Poor Leadership and his Ten Signs of an Incompetent Leader has received international recognition. The following is excerpted from the latter. Incompetent Leaders will:

“1. Delegate work rather than balance work loads. ”

Annotations: This allows all attention to be diverted from them in case of failure. It may seem to them that are managing their people, as opposed to leading them, but in actuality they are creating work imbalances within the group. It can create unnecessary overtime for some and under utilization of others.

“2. Reduce all answers to Yes or No rather than explaining their reasoning. ”

Annotations: This is an example of a crisis manager who can not think farther than a few hours ahead. A yes/no manager finds it a waste of time to find the real answer through intellectual thought. They are already thinking about the next crisis.

“3. Not separate personal life from professional life. ”

Annotations: They will bring their personal problem to work. They are unable to separate their emotional imbalances while trying to manage people. They are less focused and will not give you the attention and direction you need for success.

“4. Manage crisis. If you are a company that has crisis managers, then you can say goodbye to innovation and progression.”

Annotations: Proactive thinking is critical to the success of any company. If we are not finding ways to stop reactive thinking then the competition will pass us by. Leaders have to think out of the box and make change.

“5. Create an environment where mistakes are unacceptable. Being held accountable for wrong decisions is a fear for them.”

Annotations: Making mistakes only helps one become a better person, manager, etc. Taking a chance is not being maverick, but being courageous.

“6. Humiliate or reprimand an employee within a group.”

Annotations: A good leader takes employee problems away from a group setting to a more private setting. Reprimanding someone in front of everybody is making that someone loose face from everybody.

“7. Not stand behind subordinates when they fail.”

Annotations: Never leave your people to hang out to dry. Always back them up, right, wrong, or indifferent. If an employee tries their best in a situation and they fail to come through. They should be commended on their effort and not punished for the failure. But this is not the case here, rather most of the "expert" managers do is blame it on someone other than their own kin. Oopps, I did it again!

“8. Encourage hard workers not smart workers.”

Annotations: A hard worker is usually defined by hours. Smart workers understand the concept of time management and multi-tasking. Smart workers are methodical in their thinking and can generally be successful because of their abilities management projects and time. Hard workers may take twice as long to do the work. It is important to assign work accordingly to the skills and personalities. But here, the "expert" managers always commends the hard workers. Have you seen what some of the "expert" supervisors are doing after the regular hours? Yes, they did extend their stay in plant, but not necessarily doing work-related activities but rather they are answering personnal emails, surfing the net, chatting with friends or just simply browsing.

“9. Judge people on hours not performance. This is similar to #8.”

Annotations: Overtimers might have lost all perspective on a healthy family/balance. Bad managers will promote the employees that work the most hours and not look at the smart ones who work less, meaning have better time management. Stop watching the clock. Some "expert" managers are wont to ask: Why do locals insist on going home on the dot? What’s the hurry in going home, anyway?

“10. Act differently in front of their leaders. ”

Annotations: This is an indication of low self-confidence. They have doubts about their own ability to lead and they will act like little children when authority is present. A confident person acts the same around everyone. Remember, have respect for them, but also have self-respect. Have anyone seen these "expert" managers kowtowing before the top cow?


Ortiz, Chris (2004). Incompetent Leaders. USA: Kaizen Assembly, 2004.back to text


Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: