In the recent past, we’ve witnessed the public downfall of leaders from almost every area of the news—business, politics, religion, and sports. But regardless of what sector or discipline, the distance between a beloved leader and a despised failure is smaller than we think. Leadership is both a science and an art that is constantly evolving and operating. To be a good leader requires motivating, monitoring, and developing yourself through active hands-on involvement with your organization. To avoid a leadership failure, pay attention to these behaviors that can act as a warning sign.
Leaders are usually applauded for their ability to “think big.” But the danger of failure creeps up when their focus shifts and they suddenly start thinking small and begin to micromanage. Good leaders are those who can delegate tasks and make sure that everyone on their team is learning, growing and being challenged. When leaders start to do the work that they should be delegating to their employees, they end up hurting themselves. They get caught up in details better left to their team and in turn become consumed with minute and trivial tasks. As a result, they become stressed out because they are overloaded with work and their employees feel disempowered, get bored, and look for work elsewhere. Trust in the people around you and the team that you’ve hired to get the job done.
2. Poor communication
When leaders are unclear about their own purpose, they often hide their confusion and uncertainty in ambiguous communication. An underlying clarity of purpose is the starting point for all effective communication. In other words, leaders need to believe in the purpose. Also, leaders make the mistake of thinking that their followers automatically sense their goals and know what they want without being told. If you want to lead a team, you’re going to have to constantly communicate with them and make sure they are all in the know.
3. Fear of failure
Past successes create pressure for leaders, so much so that they can become passive and stop taking risks because of a fear of failing. Prudent leadership never takes reckless chances that risk the destruction of what has been achieved, but they are not paralyzed by fear either. Leaders seek out the advice of their team, drawn on their own knowledge, and then take calculated risks to move the organization forward.
4. Questionable ethics
The highest principle of leadership is integrity. When integrity ceases to be a leader’s top priority, you compromise your ethics and rationalize it away. It is imperative to your leadership that you constantly subject your life and work to the highest scrutiny.
5. Lack of self-care
While leadership is invigorating, it is also tiring. Leaders who fail to take care of their physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual needs are headed for disaster. Take time to clear your schedule and take care of yourself. It is absolutely vital to your leadership that you continue to grow and develop.
6. They don’t give enough criticism.
Leaders often fall into the trap of trying to please everyone and to befriend co-workers. This strategy is hardly effective and may backfire. You have to take a step back and look at the weaknesses of your team and talk to them about what they can improve. If all you do is compliment everyone, then you are doing them a disservice. On the other hand, you should accept criticism from your team. Some of your leadership tactics might not be best for the group and you need to know that.
7. They don’t respond to criticism
Finally, it’s not enough to give and get criticism. Leaders that fail to work on personal development, or don’t take it seriously, set themselves up for failure. Take action and work on your skills that need improvement, and do the same with your team. Instead of focusing on employees’ weaknesses, the leader should build on and reinforce the individual’s strengths and abilities.
Understanding these warning signs and how to avoid them, and also manage yourself through them is an important step to becoming a well-rounded and successful leader.