A leader is successful to the point that others will follow the vision. When employees are apathetic, he can expect the organization to fall short of its goals and expectations. Unfortunately, there are some leaders who lack the desire and commitment to make things better.
Great leaders are not necessarily the “rah-rah” type. A solid leader is one who has a clear understanding of the company’s destination. Despite the unknowns, this person must be able to make decisions that have a positive impact on the entire enterprise. Excellent leaders know the importance of cause-and-effect. In other words, an action will yield a result, whether good or bad.
From my experience working with leaders in different industries, here are three reasons I have observed why they fail. In some cases, these individuals are aware they are falling short but are unwilling to take corrective action. Instead, they keep engaging in the same activities that are causing the problems.
#1: Leaders who develop a barrier between themselves and their employees.
To know what can make the organization better, you must get on the floor. You need to talk with your employees. You need to know what is going well and where you need to improve. The people with the best knowledge of what is important to the customer are usually those at the operational level, such as sales staff and service desk specialists.
You must avoid relying on aggregate reports. For example, total sales for the month is an ambiguous number. You need to ask more questions from those making the sales. Why is the customer buying? Why are customers unwilling to purchase warranties? Why is it that we haven’t reached out to a certain group of buyers? In other words, you need to know the intangibles, and reports fail to provide this information.
#2: Leaders who are selective listeners.
There are some leaders who have developed excellent responses when asked tough questions. One executive asked her managerial staff to consider a salary freeze on employees. When one bold manager questioned her logic, and asked her to stop receiving salary increases, she responded … “We can discuss that issue at the appropriate time.” It was obvious she was prepared for this question.
It’s far better to take feedback from employees than to think that you are right all the time. The fact is that leaders are visionaries, and not doers. Therefore, you need to pay attention to ideas that arise from your employees. The next step is to take action and strategically implement the ideas that will improve your competitive position.
#3: Leaders who make excuses.
Part of climbing the organizational ladder requires that you stop making excuses and start taking action to resolve problems and exploit opportunities. A leader who makes excuses is one whose days are numbered.
In some cases, ineffective leaders blame their employees for the poor performance of the organization. Generally, the problem lies with poor vision and mission management. Even if part of the problem is employees failing to meet expectations, the burden is on the leadership team to take care of it.
There is a tremendous need for strong leadership today. Work is more ambiguous and complex than ever before. Competition is fierce, and it will only increase in intensity. For organizations to remain viable, leaders must stay connected with employees, listen intently, and avoid blaming others for work that goes undone.