Adam Piggott

Gentleman adventurer

The absurd idea of a “leadership team”.


I’m the boss! Better get me a leadership team!

A few days ago I wrote about the progressive absurdities that have helped scuttle the Aussie swimming team. Chief among them and the underlying cause of their troubles is the modern curse known as a “leadership team”. I have had the unfortunate experience of being subjected to a number of these bodies in my time. In my last job the leadership team had an acronym which they used when talking about what they were doing, or thinking, or considering. All hail the excruciating experience of listening to the leadership team talk about themselves in the third person.

The concept of a leadership team implies that there is a focused group that are getting on with the busy and complicated job of “leading”. This usually involves coming up with pithy public soundbites while they do their best to outmaneuver one another. The preferred method is to get in the way of anyone lower down in the organisation who is actually doing a productive job.

The leadership team are very proficient at holding meetings. They are expert meeting holders, in fact. It is best if these meetings go on for a very long time. The longer the meeting the more it will seem that they have achieved. After all, it’s all about leading. Right?

The very concept of a leadership “team” goes against what leadership actually is. Leadership is about one person with a clear vision and a good concept of how and what needs to be achieved. Every person that is added becomes a liability. They water down the leadership direction with compromise and mediocrity. People on a leadership team will feel compelled to add something of value even when they have nothing to add at all. The act of not contributing serves to make them weaker in the others’ eyes. Thus we have the situation where someone will add something of non-value so as to be seen as adding anything at all. The more non-value the contribution, the more vocal will be the contributor in seeking group approval.

This all goes back to the inherent weakness of the person who is supposed to be in charge. A great leader surrounds himself with acolytes below him who he is grooming for his job. He does not feel threatened by their existence because he is a great leader. He knows that one day someone will have to take over, or perhaps something will happen to him and he won’t be able to continue. The organisation must always be in good hands. In other words, the leader exists for the organisation not in spite of it.

Weak leaders surround themselves with mediocrity. They are in constant fear that someone will oust them from their position. This fear is grounded in reality due to the fact that they are a weak and poor leader. Thus the best course of action is to have a “leadership team.” Not only can the weak leader surround himself with fawning halfwits drunk on the giddiness of their exalted status, he can use them as convenient scapegoats when things don’t go according to plan.

And things don’t go to plan a lot when the plan is confused and nothing to do with the core role of the organisation in question. Witness how the Australian team mentioned the fact that it promotes and facilitates a values-driven, learning-oriented, process-focused culture. No mention of a winning culture or even a sporting one. Those have been lost in the troubled depths of depravity that is the leadership team.


I can’t believe women’s volleyball is an Olympic sport.


It’s best to avoid noble gestures.


  1. I kept this quote from Mick of the Gold Coast at the Cat, some time ago: ‘I want young men to play combative sports, a quite natural pursuit for most of them, to experience the discipline, to deal with winning, to suffer losing, to make the transition from primitive to civilised and to develop valuable personal qualities which they can take forward into daily life.’
    And your rafting post is really good.

    • Adam

      Thanks wrangle. Mick is a rare bird, a very good sort.

  2. Allen

    “There is no I in team,” That’s true, there isn’t. There is however an I in, “I sign your paychecks.” We could change that if you would prefer, my bite is worse than my bark.

  3. The one context in which I’ve seen the term “leadership team” used sensibly is in the military, when referring to the commander (“leader” at platoon level) and senior NCO of a unit.

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