The Energizer

Resilient Insights for Work & Life

Bad Examples Are Great Teachers

by Eileen McDargh, Chief Energy Officer - Monday, November 18, 2019
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Positive role models are always touted. But I believe, we can learn just as much—if not more—from negative examples. What do we NOT want to do? How do we NOT want to behave? These lessons are often more powerful and easier to grasp.

Case in point: In an early part of my career, I worked for a manager who took great delight in cutting down her staff, taking credit for their work when senior management made a compliment, and sometimes pitting one staff person against another. I watched in astonishment and—while making plans for moving out of that company—I also resolved never to behave that way. My manager could not have been a better role model for how NOT to engage and encourage staff. It was some lesson!

On a recent cruise ship trip, my friends came back and reported they had made STRONG resolutions to exercise more and maintain a healthy diet. Their inspiration: greatly overweight passengers whom they observed loading their plates with food and pastries. These same passengers had trouble walking. It seemed like a natural result of asking too much of their bones and joints to carry these excess pounds.

Currently, on the national scene, we are watching so-called “leaders” bullying others, name-calling, and denigrating the experience and wisdom of many. Emotional intelligence is non-existent. For anyone in any type of leadership capacity, this is a gigantic window in how NOT to act.

Think about your own experience and what you have learned from bad examples! From parenting to building relationship, my sense is that we owe a vote of gratitude to these folks.

Now let me ask you: what kind of example are YOU setting?

PS. This blog is bit short as I am out of the office speaking overseas.


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Eileen McDargh Keynote Speaker Blog Author

About Eileen!

Since beginning her consulting and training practice in 1980, Eileen has become noted for her ability to speak the truth with clarity, wisdom, humor and compassion. Long-standing clients and repeat engagements attest to her commitment to make a difference in minds, hearts and spirits of organizations and individuals. She draws upon practical business know-how, life's experiences and years of consulting to major national and international organizations that have ranged from global pharmaceuticals to the US Armed Forces, from health care associations to religious institutions. Executive Excellence magazine selected her as one of the top 100 thought leaders in leadership and among the top ten consultant providers of leadership development.

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