Dianna Booher

Dianna Booher works with organizations to improve their productivity through clear communication and with individuals to increase their impact by a stronger executive presence.

Ever find yourself on a team or in an organization that’s struggling because of a leader’s poor decision? Citizens clamor about such crippling effects by their politicians routinely. You sit back and reflect on the leader personally and wonder why a savvy, experienced, and ordinarily capable person could make such a stupid decision or policy—one that wrecks a project or destroys the morale of so many people.

Many people today talk about leadership who’ve never led anything more complex than a high school marching band.  They offer this or that principle as if proven under fire when, in fact, their experience has been limited to launching missiles in a game of Battleship.

But that’s not to say that you can’t learn from these neophytes or even failed leaders. On the contrary. As volunteers or especially as victims in their experiments, you often have a front-row seat to observe their inappropriate actions and inactions. You learn not to repeat their leadership lapses:

Janet wore a smile from the nose down; her eyes bore daggers. If I offered a Friday afternoon off for having finished a big project early, she “wished” it had been last week when she and her husband were headed out of town for the football game. 

When I ordered in pizza for everyone’s lunch to celebrate a staff anniversary, she had “hoped” for barbecue.

By the time warring factions get to the executive ranks, they’ve already been routed through the normal HR channels, and one or more parties has a life coach or psychologist involved. Whether personality quirks or big egos cause the conflict really doesn’t matter if the problem continues to create havoc for your organization.

The first day I sauntered into Miss Amos’s English class, I was scared. Not because of the subject or because this was my first day in a big city school—I was startled by her face. My first thought: Did some terrible disease do this to her?

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