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Top 5 Reasons Leaders Fail

Posted on Feb 06, 2017
Leader - Blog

Any team or organization takes the personality of their leaders, which is why it is absolutely vital for a team to have a good leader. An effective leader creates a motivational vision of the future, inspires people to work towards it, manages delivery of the vision and builds a team so that it is more effective in achieving it.  However, too often we hear of leaders unable to successfully take the helm and productively navigate through issues.  Here are our some reasons why leaders fail:

1. Failing to Lead by Example. “Example is not the main thing influencing others. It is the only thing.” – Albert Schweitzer

When leaders don’t practice what they preach, it can be almost impossible for a team to work together productively.  Leaders must recognize that people are watching and being influenced by their behavior.

Leaders erode trust and remove a critical element of productive leadership when they set a different set of standards for themselves and different standards for their group.  If cost cutting measures are implemented, then making extravagant expenses on the company account sends the wrong signals.  Leaders who fail to lead by example will create a disconnect between themselves and their group.

2. Failing to Motivate. “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

Leaders need to draw the team towards the unified goal.  Just getting people to finish their work is not a sign of a good leader; they need to motivate them and make sure they enjoy the tasks that are assigned to them.

Failure to recognize and reward performance can often result in talent not being maximized or migrating out.  Financial incentives are not the only avenue leaders can take to inspire their team.  Leaders need to broaden the incentive system to encompass other rewards and also provide a clear path and benchmarks to attain these returns.

3. Failing to Communicate. “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw

Leadership today is about advancing yourself by serving others.  Leaders become the voice of their team, which means they need to listen actively, speak effectively and write persuasively. To grow and compete, leadership must promote a spirit of trust and transparency where communication is strong, consistent and boundary less.

The 2016 Ketchum Leadership Communication Monitor report found that 68% of the people wanted leaders to exhibit open communication. Leaders, by forming silos between departments, hinder the company’s performance.  Instead of hidden agendas, leaders need to align their actions with their words, and provide complete trust to their audience.  If leaders do not provide others a voice that is heard and valued, then they are walking down a path of failure.

4. Failing to Take Risks. “If you don’t take risks, you’ll always work for someone who does.” — Nora Denzel, Board director of Ericsson, AMD and Outerwall.

For the relentless pursuit of results leaders often shy away from taking chances.  However, for leaders to be successful they must be willing to take risks and create a culture that supports risk taking.  Only through risk taking can there be innovation and growth.

The risk taking should not be reckless.  Leaders need to make calculated decisions that align with the organization’s goals, vision and objectives.  One way of doing this is to utilize controlled experiments (A/B testing) and implement a system of rapid feedback and correction. Leaders who say “Never do that again” will only hinder the organization’s advancement. Instead prosperous leaders need to ask questions like “Did we learn that we needed better training or planning?” and cultivate a risk-taking environment.  Failure to do so will only result in competitors seizing opportunities and leaders putting their company at risk.

5. Failing to Learn. “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” – John F. Kennedy

It’s one thing to be a team member; it’s another to lead those team members.  Success now is dependent on how the team performs and not just the individual’s performance and some leaders find the shift difficult to make.  New leaders are frequently unprepared to handle the realities associated with managing a group.  This can often lead to them making poor decisions or even ignoring the problem.

For the more seasoned leader, they too need to be constant learners, for them to successfully grow, adapt and thrive.  Some avenues leaders can utilize to build on their skills include:

  • Reading – read a broad range of publications including newspapers, journals, and biographies.
  • Engagement – stay connected to all the stakeholders.
  • Listening – listen to the ideas and issues voiced by people around you.
  • Education – attend workshops or executive education programs

Leaders who fail to continuously learn and challenging their own assumptions will soon find their methodologies or skills obsolete.

It is important that leaders learn and grow from their mistakes. Failure is a necessary evil for a leader to eventually be successful; don’t let it stop you from trying.

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This article was also published in Your Story on 30/01/2017.

Posted in MBA

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