This past week we had the chance to see bad leadership on the public stage with Uber founder and CEO, Travis Kalanick.

By Steve Moran

There are perhaps as many leadership styles as there are leaders and almost as many ideas about how good leaders should relate to the public, their team and their customers. There are some leaders we celebrate and others we revile.  

This past week we had the chance to see bad leadership on the public stage when Uber Founder and CEO, Travis Kalanick, goes off on one of his drivers who is really suffering financially (you can skip to the 4 minute mark for the specific incident in question):


Tactic Vs Strategy

This is not a one-off for Kalanick. He has a reputation for being an Ass with those who disagree with him. One of my favorite quotes (slightly changed to make it a bit less crude) about his leadership style comes from a Vanity Fair article:

 “It’s being an ass as a tactic, not a strategy.”

I have a good friend who is a fantastic, charismatic junior high/high school teacher. When we lived in the same town, he taught 7-10th grade in a very thriving church school. Each year he would get a new crop of 7th graders who he was very hard on. By the first few weeks they were terrified of him and were completely compliant.  

By the time those 7th graders were in 10th grade they were no longer afraid. They trusted him and saw him as more of a friend than authoritarian. What he did was strategy not tactic.

When Ego Gets In The Way

This is the biggest danger of leadership, believing that you are superior and right in all that you do . . . that because you are at the top and successful no one has a right to question you or challenge you. These stories are hugely valuable because they remind us that leadership comes with many traps.