Leadership is a complicated subject, inspiring thousands of books, articles, and presentations. Usually we explore all the positive attributes of what is commonly considered the archetypal good leader.

What do you think if we also look at that antagonist, who would represent everything unwanted for a professional leader? I recently had in my hands an interesting article that spoke about the qualities of the anti-leader, although I would better call him a non-leader.

Why is he not an anti-leader, but a non-leader?

The anti-leader is the character that counterbalances the leader and is part of every hero’s journey on the path of his development. The anti-leader within the organization can bring some value, even if it is not the orthodox one. It allows questioning the status quo and taking everyone out of the comfort zone. As a role, it can be positive that this figure exists, but as an archetype it adds all the qualities of the non-leader and would cease to be enriching for the development of leaders and organizations. That non-leader is who I intend to talk about in this article. With this set of qualities in one person, the result is no de facto leading. The possibility of leading is blocked as I will explain later.

In general, the previously mentioned article details aspects of the behaviour of this archetype, such as the ones I add below:

Make others feel less

Take credit for others’ actions

Make irrelevant contributions

Abuse power

Hate those who eclipse them

Plays different characters

Plays victim

This figure of the non-leader does not exist represented in any person, but to a certain extent creating a prototype can help us to see that set of unwanted qualities, which to a greater or lesser extent we can identify in ourselves and in other people in our immediate environment. We can all have some of these characteristics unconsciously and internally perceived as good intentions.

What can we learn from what not to do?

We can ask ourselves why study the negative. It serves to give examples contrary to what we expect. The negatives are worth looking at, as it takes us out of our comfort zone. Good lessons are not always pleasant, and leaders who do not display the above negative qualities may even earn the respect of the most sceptical.

The impact of the non-leader’s own actions generates more non-leaders. Just as a good leader generates leaders, the reverse is also true. For example, a person who tends to take credit for others by not recognizing their work encourages competitiveness instead of cooperation.

The organizational culture that leads to this type of behaviour is based on blocking talent, creativity, development, coordination, communication … That is why it is essential to know how to identify those qualities that slow down leadership, that impede the development of organizations and people. We can all have a part of non-leader within us from working, and it all starts with becoming aware of it.

How can we be aware of what we do? Evaluating the impact we have on our environment. If we begin to see behaviours like this around us, we should ask ourselves: what are we doing to promote them?