Failures in Leadership

Failures in Leadership

January 28th, 2013 // 9:34 am @

bad-leadership-causes-failed-it copyFailures in leadership are often the cause of companies not delivering the returns shareholders expect, or even ceasing to trade completely.

Even where the company is facing issues not directly caused by poor leadership, a good Leader will be more able to deal with the issues than a poor one.

Research undertaken by Dr Robert Hogan estimates that somewhere in excess of half of people in Leadership roles actually do not have the skills required to lead effectively.

We seem able to recognize great leadership when we see it whether it be Churchill or Steve Jobs, but we seem to struggle to understand what the component parts of a leader are and how to recognize these in individuals, and bring them into our organizations.

What leadership is not is a job title, or even absolute power. It is a mix of recognizable skills and personality traits:

Integrity – People within an organization and outside recognize even if only subconsciously any lack of integrity or narcissism. People respect integrity, even when the individual makes mistakes. A good leader must be seen to be trying to do the right thing for all stakeholders, that people will follow.

Decisiveness – I was once told by a leader I much respected “Knowing what to do is relatively easy, having the courage to do it is the difficult bit”. It is often the case that making a clear decision and carrying it through with commitment is more important than the actual decision.

Competence – As a leader you must actually make decisions and you need to get the majority correct. No one will get every decision correct, but a demonstrable commercial competence is critical to leadership.

Vision – A great leader must enthuse everyone in the organization with a vision of where the company is going and why. Most people want to work for a successful company and if they buy into the vision, they will work towards it.

Communication – To lead is to communicate, the vision, the strategy, the business model, decisions taken, results. The more people know about what is happening and believe in it, the more they will work towards the corporate goals without he need for close supervision

The organizations that value and nurture true leadership the most are those in the military. They have understood the critical value of leadership better than commercial organizations.

History is littered with military examples of where leadership was the difference between success and failure, from Alexander the Great to Patton. Yet in commerce we do not seem to have grasped the critical nature of leadership as well.

When recruiting people into leadership roles, leadership is rarely even mentioned, and almost never are the specific skills and personality traits required laid out as necessary for the successful candidate.

This void in our ability to value leadership, recognize it and recruit it, leads to “Industry experience” being often stated as a critical requirement.

This feels safe although rarely actually is.

Good leaders do exist, and can be recognized, and recruited:

1.               Value leadership in roles requiring the individual to lead. Put leadership at the top of the required skills, because it is that you are actually looking for.

  1. Focus when you seek leaders on the specific skills personality traits you want, Integrity, Decisiveness, Competence, Vision and Communication.
  2. When interviewing a potential leader ask them not how long have they been in the industry, but ask them for specific examples from their career of where they have demonstrated these skills, and personality traits.

If we value leadership, understand what leadership is, and recruit it, we will get better leaders.

Better leaders will deliver better financial results, and that is the objective of the exercise.


Category : Blog &Leadership

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