Rod Aparicio

Feb 19, 2022

Change How We Call "Bad" Leadership. It's Misleadership. And it's BAD for business.

What do you call the opposite of profit? Bad profit?

What do you call the opposite of purpose? Bad purpose?

Love... Bad love?

We have "created" this good leadership/bad leadership thing because we are just too lazy to make up a word for that definition. [Yup, making up a word like internet, hacker, google, vision or mission statement].

We've come up with this good/bad leadership to define a model that we are making up on the go. And it’s screwing us up - BADLY.

A vicious model

Where having authority equals leading. Which empowers the shitty people who made it there to keep doing as they please.

The worst of it is that this "bad leadership" now applies to everything - from business to school to academia to politics. And from “bad leadership”, the thing that sticks is leadership, giving something that whoever is making those decisions or actions lacks. I refuse to call a politician with greed and a mobster MO a "leader" only because they are the head or the ones with authority to call the shots in whatever they want. In Spanish, i found the term for such a specific person: cabecilla [chieftain].

A reframe: Misleadership

Peter Drucker called it Misleadership. And I think this is a better term (for now).

To mislead” is the opposite of “to lead”, and its definition is “to deceive, or to misrepresent reality”.

The Role Of Leadership In Business

Christian Sarkar and Philip Kotler, talking about brands and leadership to create better social ecosystems, addresses this as:

When marketing techniques are used to sell ideologies that weaken and polarize society, we have a problem. Leaders must stand up and act to stop it – our future on this planet depends on it.

So what are we doing to better run and do business better? Are we moving ahead or falling behind?

Is there a gray area in this? I bet.

How gray do we want to go, though?

Maybe we can just start calling things what they are and stop this bad leadership (just like “soft skills”) BS. If we don’t stop calling these people leaders, we’ll keep going down the hole while they keep gaining more power and feel untouchable. It's a vicious cycle.

And if they keep winning, we're fucked.

Rod Aparicio

Brand Strategy Advisor for Indie Consulting Firms.