Hello, and welcome to the Leadership Done Right Podcast, Episode 50: 10 Reasons Why Leaders Fail.
Hi friends, we are all so blessed to be alive and talking about leadership today! I hope you are doing well and life is going well for you wherever you’re listening to this episode!
Last week I explained the Top 10 Causes of Leadership Failure. In creating that list, I put out a request on Facebook and received an abundance of reasons why leaders fail. So, this week I am going to share an encore to last week’s list with 10 additional reasons why leaders fail. But first…
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10 Reasons Why Leaders Fail
Alright, now we’ll discuss the 10 Reasons Why Leaders Fail. I really like learning why others failed, so I don’t have to make the same mistakes myself. So let’s consider these 10 reasons with that mindset. Unlike last week, these are not in any particular order.
1. Poor Leadership Approach
Number one, leaders fail when they have a poor leadership approach. This can be manifest in many ways.
Another poor leadership approach is to become a leader strictly to gain power over others. If you are leading just for power, you are probably not leading the right way.
And one final poor leadership approach is to lead with no confidence, rudeness, insincerity, or just flat out in a way that you show everyone you don’t know what you are doing. That quickly loses everyone’s confidence, and often even causes resentment.
2. No Humility
The second reason why leaders fail is because either they have no humility or they have an extreme lack of humility. This is similar to the Know-it-All mentality that I explained last week. Leaders without humility often lack a willingness to continue learning, especially from those viewed as inferior. These leaders are often viewed as egotistical.
3. Lack of Work Ethic
The third reason leaders fail is because they lack work ethic. There is a natural tendency that when people get a leadership role they stop doing the very things that earned them the leadership position. They stop working as hard.
4. No Accountability
At number four, leaders fail when there is no accountability. This goes two ways. Either the leader coddles people and doesn’t hold they accountable for what they agree to get done, or they aren’t held accountable for their own actions so they do whatever they want. Either way it does not work out well for those they lead.
5. Not Being a Leader or Being a Silent Leader
The fifth reason why leaders fail is because they either don’t step up to be the leader in the moment they are needed, or they are a silent leader.
Have you ever been in a situation where someone needed to step up and take the lead to get something done? Often, the leader jumps up and does it, but some times they sit back and watch others waiting for something to happen. What happens? Often nothing happens and that is where the problem lies.
The other scenario is where a leaders leads by staying silent. That makes everyone they lead think they fully support the decisions being made and sometimes that is not a good thing. If leaders always stay silent, it sets the precedent that those they lead must also stay silent and just do their job by staying between the lines.
Now, we are going to take a quick break for our sponsors and when we come back, we will go through the following five reasons why leaders fail.
6. Sets people up for failure
Welcome back! Have you every been asked to do something that you hadn’t been trained to do? When you started to speak up to voice your concern, you were shut down by your leader. He or she may have said something like, “Just figure it out and do it?” or “Do what it takes to get the job done, BUT stay within the budget!”
If this has happened to you, you have probably experienced number six where your leader intentionally or unintentionally set you up for failure. When leaders don’t provide people with proper training and then expect them to get the job done, this is unfair to the individual and the team. What’s worse is that you are sending the wrong message to everyone that you will also hold them accountable for unrealistic expectations.
7. Pass The Buck
Number seven, is when leaders don’t deal with the issues at hand. Instead, they escalate the issue by passing it to HR, the next level of leadership or management, or some other department. I like to call this passing the buck.
I was given the following example: “Escalation instead of leadership during interpersonal conflicts of team members. When I managed for [large cellular provider] one of the district managers would come into a region and instead of calm, logical approaches toward resolution, he would instead become emotional, take sides, and wind everyone up. I wanted to scream when I heard he was coming by.”
8. Short-sighted Vision or Focus
The eighth reason why leaders fail is that they have a short-sighted vision or focus. This often happens when they focus so much on the here and now, the upcoming projects or workload, or vision to help the next few months only to lose track of the long term goals.
In the example I received, they said, “Short term focus and long-term oversight leading to a lack of backlog and potential layoffs that could have been avoided by proper delegation and time management.”
9. Difficulty with Change
At number nine, I received multiple leadership failures that all related to change, so I am going to call it difficulty with change. The difficulties with change fell into two categories: inability to change and ineffective change.
Inability to adapt to change — leaders that won’t change regardless of the negative impact it will have on the organization. Or they make themselves unavailable so the change can’t happen. Leaders also have legacy thinking, where they say, “It’s always worked this way so why change now?” or “That’s the way we’ve always done it!”
With ineffective change, the leader takes the approach of “Change now, ask questions later.” For example, I was told, “From a school standpoint…when people come in and start changing things right away to fit their vision without first taking time to see how things are currently working. It’s better to change only what needs to be changed. In six years, I have had three administrators and each one came with their own programs and visions which meant an overhaul every two years. We don’t need an overhaul each time.”
Another aspect of ineffective change, occurs when leaders make wide sweeping changes without knowing the impact on the frontline workers. One comment I received they said, “Decisions made by management that don’t involve the people doing the job. Thus causing more frustration, failure, and disrespect from employees. This happens when leaders focus on how many full-time employees and the cost of those bodies instead of what is safe for the patients/customer. I personally have more respect for a manager if they are willing to work next to me and do my job, they understand what each position does and how problems affect everyone. The problem is with the ivory tower mentality!”
10. Poor Communication
And finally, at number ten, leaders fail when they have poor communication. This happens when they don’t communicate, they communicate poorly, or even when they say too much.
There are definitely things that must be kept confidential for proprietary, personnel, or legal reasons, but there are a lot of things that fall outside that realm. When leaders are secretive about things they could share, it only causes problems with those they lead.
What do I mean when I say poor communication? Well, every time we speak, convey our message by more than just the words we say. Our tone, cadence, body language, and overall demeanor impacts the message we convey. That can all be used very effectively, but it can also be done ineffectively which leads to poor communication.
There’s also over-communicating. This occurs when people say much more than they should, talk about things before they have been properly vetted, or are still formulating ideas. Have you ever had someone tell you they were going to do something only to tell you they changed their mind a few minutes, days, or weeks later? This often happens when people over communicate. Another example of over-communicating is what happens with the various news outlets. They often hear a bit or piece of news and spread it only to find out that they were missing key pats. They then come back later to change or correct what they already said.
When communicating as a leader, chose your words, tone, body language and timing very carefully so you communicate the message you intend to communicate at the right time.
Now that we have concluded the list of 10 reasons why leaders fail, let’s do a quick recap. They are:
- Poor Leadership Approach
- No Humility
- Lack of Work Ethic
- No Accountability
- Not Being a Leader or Being a Silent Leader
- Sets people up for failure\
- Pass The Buck
- Short-sighted Vision or Focus
- Difficulty with Change
- Poor Communication
In some of the upcoming episodes, I am going to go into much more detail on these items individually. Coming up next week though, I am going to have a great interview I did with Joseph Paris. He’s a thought leader in operational leadership, and an international entrepreneur, consultant, writer, speaker, and mentor. Joseph has devoted his entire career of over 30 years to helping companies become high-performance organizations. Be sure to check it out next Monday, May 21st when it goes live!
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