When Leadership Goes Meh

You know ‘meh’ leadership. It’s not great leadership, it’s not awful leadership, but if it isn’t taken seriously, it can be one of the worst kinds of leadership.


Meh: adjective
uninspiring; unexceptional: a lot of his movies are … meh
unenthusiastic; apathetic: everyone else I talked to was kind of meh” Oxford Dictionaries

‘Meh’ leadership flies under the radar. It doesn’t bring about top performance, and it doesn’t prevent poor performance. It exists for the sake of existing, and drives everyone to the kind of organizational mediocrity that is hard to shake.

The Muddled Middle

Imagine your top performers with a little less edge to them. This is what ‘meh’ leadership encourages. It slowly, but surely drains your very best and encourages mediocre performance. It’s not deliberate; it’s just a product of a long slow decline in trust and expectations.

Your underperformers on the other hand, get a little boost in their reputation. As the gap between them and the top performers shrinks, they don’t stand out as much. Given the right (or wrong) circumstance, they might just blend in perfectly with your very best employees!

I call this the muddled middle. It’s not my term, and I can’t remember where I first heard it. The tendency towards the muddled middle doesn’t create the kind of organizational stress that drives better results. It seeks safety and consistency at the expense of high performance and risk taking.

So Now What?

I won’t pretend to know the answer to this one. As I’ve said before, I’m learning just as much as you are. I think however, that the best place to start is working to eliminate mediocre leadership the same way we work to eliminate bad leadership.

Even better, let’s prevent it from getting started in the first place so that we don’t have to clean up the mess afterwards!

What do you think? Meh?

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