Bad Boss Behaviors are caused, at least in part , by unclear expectations. There is a massive amount of confusion in the leadership development space, causing organizations to not select a model or define expectations. Here's what to do about that.

Bad Boss Behaviors Cause #2: Unclear Expectations

There is a large crowd surrounding the entrance to a big top tent. In the middle is a ringmaster making grand gestures with arms wide and hands open. He has a giant smile. Amidst the crowd are wild animals, including a large tiger, sitting at the ringmasters feet. The crowd seems in awe.

We covered the first cause of Bad Boss Behaviors, Lack of Education, last week. Given the lack of formal education, new bosses are often left to their own devices to develop leadership skills. What does that experience look like?

Imagine you’re standing in the middle of a leadership development carnival, surrounded by many competing voices. Each voice promises to turn you into the next great leader. Welcome to the insanity of modern leadership development. The circus tent is packed to the brim with books, webinars, and self-proclaimed experts, all jostling for your attention. This great show has become unnecessarily overcomplicated and crowded. You’re baffled over where to start your leadership journey.

The Problem with Leadership Development's Big Top

One of the primary issues in this leadership development circus is the sheer number of acts vying for the spotlight. Amazon lists over 60,000 books on leadership and Google references over 210,000 pages for “leadership development expert”. Imagine a clown car pulling up, and leader after leader keeps emerging with their own tricks and promises.

Adding to the confusion, many of these books and experts essentially say the same thing but use different jargon, industry examples, and models. It’s like they’re all speaking different dialects of “leadershipese”, making you desire a translator.


This massive confusion causes most organizations to never adopt a leadership model or define people leadership expectations. Once again, the newly promoted boss is left to their own devices to figure out what they need and how to develop Better Boss Behaviors™.

Simplifying the Circus

We do not need to juggle all these leadership acts. What we need is a ringmaster who can bring order to this circus. Enter The Acronym Model of Servant Leadership®, our trusty ringmaster, ready to mute the noise and focus your attention to the most important, relevant, and impactful acts.


This model takes all the chaos of leadership development and transforms it into a concise, easy-to-understand framework. It’s like a map through the hall of mirrors that is the leadership development landscape.

The Main Act

What does this solution look like? The Acronym Model of Servant Leadership distills the essence of hundreds of leadership ideas from dozens of experts into seven core principles:

Each principle is supported by countless attributes, examples, references, videos, and more. In addition, there is an overarching map that traces all attributes back to other models, authors, and practitioners, if you want to dig deeper on that topic.

Selecting Your Ringmaster

In a world where leadership often feels like a three-ring circus, the Acronym Model of Servant Leadership stands as the ultimate act in simplicity. It helps you cut through the clowning around and find your way to true leadership excellence. Whether you choose it as your final model or a starting point to identify another model for your organization, the key point is that you do choose a model. Until you select and endorse a leadership model, there will be a lack of expectations and continued Bad Boss Behaviors™. So, let’s roll up the circus tent, take a bow, and choose a leadership model so you can Build Better Bosses™ to lead the “greatest show on earth”.

Next week, we tackle Bad Boss Behaviors™ Cause #3: Needing What We Should be Leading. Until then, keep serving!


If you or your organization could use some help building better bosses™, contact us.


Picture of Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner is the founder and principal of Modern Servant Leader and Radiant Forest, LLC. He has studied and promoted servant leadership awareness and adoption for over 20 years. He is the author of 2 leadership books and has 2 decades of corporate management and leadership experience. His corporate experience spans CIO, VP, Director, and many management roles at Fortune 500, INC 500, and Nonprofits. Ben’s education includes a B.S. in Management Science & Information Systems from Penn State University and an MBA from Lehigh University. Ben's Full Profile Here: About Ben Lichtenwalner

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