Ripple effect of Bad Leadership nurturing confidence leadership learning

The Ripples of Bad Leadership

Every small action that each of us takes has impacts that ripple far beyond our own line of sight – impacting people and the planet in ways that can be impossible to foresee or understand from the centre of the action.

When there are so many issues that need resolving, so many problems that feel intractable and so many pressures on us to keep doing more, it can feel like there is no time to consider those ripple impacts of our actions.

Yet when I work with leaders, I often find that this concept of the ripple effect is exactly the piece they need to pull them out of the overwhelm of the busyness, to connect with the bigger picture reasons for putting in the mindful effort needed to pause a little longer, and to consider the impacts of their actions, however small or insignificant they may seem. 


Consider this...

A leader, or person working with or managing others, is quickly frustrated with the people working around them. They snap at requests or impatiently dismiss issues out of hand in an effort to get everything done quickly. This action can create a ripple of discomfort in everyone they work with. As a result, team members will be nervous to take problems to them for fear of being snapped at. Unacknowledged problems fester and get bigger.

  • Team members are now nervous to make mistakes…, so they take too long over tasks, checking and rechecking, making their boss  even more frustrated by the additional delay!
  • Stakeholders won’t approach them for input unless absolutely necessary, to avoid confrontation or conflict. Therefore opportunities to contribute are missed and are perceived as disruptive if provided later.
  • Other leaders are nervous to give them feedback because that will be a stressful experience for everyone. So, the chance to develop professionally is missed. This could have helped them to progress their career.

Each of those people effected and stressed by being around that leader will then potentially take their stress to the next meeting, or home, or into their community, while driving, or engaging with other people in their everyday life.


Stress is incredibly socially contagious

And so, without being aware of it, and without ever being given the feedback that it’s happening, a leader can quickly become the epicentre of a ripple effect of negative emotions that travels far beyond their own unpredictable moods!

At Nurturing Confidence, we use this concept to help bring deeper motivation for self-awareness and regulation of emotions. We work on developing an aligned communication skill set that can be very difficult for leaders to find time to do the hard work around.

But. When leaders, and everyday people, recognise the ripples of their negative actions, it’s easy to see why managing my self is so very important. Leaders can see that in the act of pausing to think about the impact they actually want to have moment to moment, their ripples can be far more positive, and lead more closely to the waves they are trying to create. In their immediate environment, at home, and at work.

Through this thinking, we shape leaders who are mindful of their actions - on themselves, people and our planet, moment to moment, despite the busy. Because when the seas are rough, and times are difficult, we need more leaders who help calm the storm, to settle all around them, so that with clearer thoughts we can intentionally create the waves that will change things for a better world.