History has provided us countless examples of strong leaders, but what about the bad ones.  What can we learn from these? 

This week we’re taking a look across some great examples of leadership buffoons from the world of TV and film, with the aim to see what connects them all and what we can learn from them.

1. Gordon Gekko – Wall Street

Maddoff eat your heart out! Gekko was ripping off honest hardworking people since the mid 80’s with his mantra of “greed is good”.  Gekko is the epitome of 80s raw capitalism, but what made him a poor leader?

Gekko is motivated by one thing only; money, and he will do just about anything to get it including involving himself in an illegal deal that he knows will result in thousands of people losing their jobs. Gekko lacks any form of moral fibre or ethical code, something that is key in any leader.   True leaders show integrity, look out for their staff and always look to do the right thing.

Anyway why does Gekko care?  He doesn’t need to be liked or have friends.  In the words of the infamous Gekko “If you need a friend, get a dog”.

Click here for one of Gekko’s finest moments.  

2. Bill Lumbergh – Office Space

A Mike Judge masterpiece, set on the backdrop of the year 2K dot com boom, Office Space focuses on Initech a company that sets the benchmark in depressing work environments.  Leading the way is Bill Lumbergh, possibly the most irritating and uninspiring boss on the list.

Lumbergh’s biggest flaw is his poor communication skills, a quality that’s essential to any leader.   Lumbergh’s interactions with his staff tend to be either last minute requests for them to work across the weekend or to provide feedback that’s already been provided by multiple other managers, certainly something that would drive any member of staff crazy (especially when it’s because of a new cover sheet missing from the TPS reports!).

Lumbergh also lacks honesty when dealing with his staff, evident from his interaction with Milton, a member of staff that instead of letting go they allow to continue working without pay with the hope that “it’ll just work itself out naturally.”

Click here for one of Lumbergh’s finest moments. 

3. David Brent – The (UK) Office

Apologies to our US audience, but if you haven’t seen the UK office, then you’re missing out because it’s awesome and from an employee engagement perspective provides great material on how not to run your business.

David Brent certainly takes the award for most irritating leader on this list with his unprofessional and cringe worthy behavior.  Brent makes an exceptionally bad leader based on his attempts to be part of the gang (the gang being his staff) at any cost and his inability to communicate.

Brent will go to any lengths to entertain and befriend his staff, with inappropriate jokes in abundance and a constant attempt to belittle any other manager that may challenge his authority.  True leaders understand the position of authority they hold and act in a professional manner with their staff.  They understand that at times they need to make decisions that may not go down well with staff and may cause them to be unpopular.

Click here for one of Brent’s finest moments. 

4. Montgomery Burns – The Simpsons

Probably the worst of all bosses in this list, is Monty Burns.  The thing that propels Monty into the big leagues of bad leaders is the high level of disdain he holds for his staff, with him rarely remembering the names of his employees and regularly ejecting staff from his office via his secret trapdoor in the floor. Monty’s greatest passions are wealth accumulation and firing employees, with staff regularly being chased from the grounds of the Burns Manor following his trademark quote of “release the hounds”!

The employees at his Nuclear power plant exhibit the lowest level of engagement with workplace naps the norm, nuclear meltdowns narrowly being avoided and nuclear waste regularly being used as paperweights.  Its fairly clear respect, trust and the safety of his staff are low on Monty’s priority list, making Monty an epic failure of a leader.

Click here for one of Monty’s finest moments.