No Brains, No Gains

We have all heard the expression, “no pain, no gain.” It has lots of applications. Athletes use it often. People who have struggled to achieve something important use it to motivate them.

Well, I have a new version, No Brains, No Gains. So what do I mean? Knowledge is critical to becoming a good leader. An engaging personality, good listening skills, a willingness to admit you are wrong, asking for feedback, a passion to achieve success and a drive to combine doing the right thing from a framework based on facts. We get facts through experience or research. When a critical decision is on the line, we validate before we speak.

Have you ever encountered a “leader”, board chair or project manager who practices Ready, Shoot, Aim? I have too many times.

Not long ago, I sat in a board room where the chair of the board stated, “Not for profit organizations cannot give money to other not for profit organizations.” It wasn’t true then and it remains very untrue now. Imagine that? A well-respected, national attorney who is an expert in not for profit law confirmed this untruth at a recent conference. This same board chair warned fellow board members that they cannot write a personal check to a political candidate, nor attend benefits or rallies of any kind. When asked if they could attend as long as the organization was not mentioned, no T-Shirt, hat, pin or anything representing the organization was worn; they were still told, “no because your personal check could be traced to the organization.” Once again this, too, is untrue.

So, No Brains, No Gains means people in power often spew out authoritative sounding edicts that prove to be unsubstantiated and blatantly false. Having a strong background in behavioral health, I am aware of the pitfalls of leader-want-to-be types. Typically, they are insecure, suffer from Imposter Syndrome and have a need to show their depth of skills and knowledge even when it does not exist.

No Brains, No Gains can be detrimental to an organization as this type of leader can set up a folie du doute – a leader who struggles with abnormal doubts about common sense beliefs creating a course of action that is indecisive and often inaccurate.

No Brains leads to No Gains and may stifle an organization’s ability and/or willingness to pursue new avenues of growth. What develops is a “safety net” of sorts or a hovering around actions that present no perceived risk or repeating what you’ve always done because it’s predictable. True leaders know risk-reward is part of being a visionary leader. This type of leader has Brains and makes Gains.

No Brains, No Gains leadership fosters a fear of risk taking resulting in no one challenging the status quo. My mother always said, “before you say anything, make sure you know what you are talking about.” Damn good advice, Mom. Mothers are natural born leaders because they have lots of experience. I say beware of boys in men’s suits who bully to be leaders. The suit might fit, but they don’t. They are funny to watch, but catastrophic to most organizations.

The No Brains, No Gains leader does not like to be challenged for fear of being exposed…yes, the Imposter Syndrome! So, they blurt something out as if it is written in the Constitution and they request no feedback or discussion. If they said it, it must be right. Rubbish, I say my good people!

Demand that your leaders know what they are talking about before you give them the gavel to run your meeting or organization. Remember…No Brains = No Gains!

What do you think? Have you seen this in action yourself?

I really don't know what I'm talking about...


2 thoughts on “No Brains, No Gains

  1. Forget the Ready and Aim steps, I have seen some leaders just Shoot. When lethal leaders are at the wheel there tends to be teams of well-paid communication professionals in the back seat holding their breaths. These individuals are specialists in damage control and morale boosting. An organization may not always have a brilliant leader at the helm, but if the institution is successful someone must be whispering in his or her ear.

    A true leader needs to be able to stand in front of a cubicle with the same level of interest they have in front of a boardroom.
    What do you think of this Superbowl commercial?

    It makes me want to work there.

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