Why leaders fail

When we talk about leadership, we don’t often discuss about why leaders fail. The focus is usually placed firmly on how to show leadership – as a skill or action.

In most cases, leaders are chosen for their intelligence, having had prior success in their field, show initiative and can talk the talk!

But true leadership success is more about being the correct type of person and taking the right actions at the right time. This means that when leaders fail, they are usually approaching something incorrectly, through their insights, mindset, actions or relationships.

They don’t see these blindspots. But these need to be recognised before they can build on their leadership skills.

What are some of these failures?

Don’t shift their mindset

Most people promoted to leadership have performed well as individuals within the organisation. However, this doesn’t always translate into outstanding leadership performance. These people sometimes struggle to shift their drive from personal success to a team’s success.

Leaders also fail when they only focus on the numbers. Because that’s what leaders do, right? Again, they don’t make the necessary shift. They neglect to focus on developing the culture and demonstrating the organisation’s values and principles, as well as focusing on achieving the numbers.

Rigid Approach

Consistency is generally a good character trait; however, it can be taken to the extreme and cause disastrous effects for the organisation. This trap is common. Making sure they get the job done, the way that it is always done regardless of the consequences.

Great leaders know when to use a flexible approach. They can see when something needs a different approach or perspective to achieve the goal set out by the organisation.

Poor Communication

Rarely do people make it to the top of the leadership ladder without good communication skills. But there are still leaders who struggle with this skill. They rarely get any objectives achieved or are misunderstood by everyone in the organisation.

Knowing when and how to communicate across all levels of the organisation is imperative if a leader is going to make any significant impacts.

They fail to listen

While it is essential to have confident leaders that appear to be in control. It is a complete fail when they are arrogant and do not listen to others who may have ideas or solutions to challenges.

Just because you are a leader, you don’t have to do all the talking or solution generation. The aim is to loosen the grip on the reigns and allow a collaboration of views and suggestions.

They ignore relationships

Leaders often focus on a team’s performance and meeting targets and goals. But the targets are difficult to achieve if relationships are not founded on trust within a group or organisation. Leaders fail and cause chaos when they don’t show integrity or neglect to build relationships.

Pay attention to demonstrating respect, following through on your word and keeping team members engaged and motivated.

They don’t accept the truth

Leadership often fails when managers refuse to see the facts of situations. They tweak data to fit their preconceived ideas of what should be happening and neglect to see what is in front of them.

Focus on coming up with conclusions based on data—deal with the evidence you have before you.

They don’t hold themselves accountable

The minute you become a leader, you give up the right to blame others or make excuses for failures, off-target strategies or shortcomings.

Leaders accept responsibility for the mistakes made and always ‘get back up’ after a hit and work to find acceptable solutions.

Don’t hold others accountable

Some leaders fail because they manage their people by not holding them accountable. This is usually because they want to be liked or avoid conflict. This is a classic situation of failing to set clear expectations of the people that are being managed.

Check-in regularly with your team, and document your expectations and their professional and team goals. Come back to these during your meetings and make changes based on evidence.

They fail to delegate

Managers can often feel the need to micromanage. They don’t delegate because they are concerned the job won’t be done properly. They end up burning themselves out, and they hinder employees and team members from learning and growing in their position.

Learn to let go of control. Have team members nominate for tasks that can be handled or delegate stretch tasks to improve a person’s skill level.

Leaders are human and imperfect. We all are. Many of these leadership failures can be prevented or mitigated if the leader is committed to improving themselves and their relationships with others around them.

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