Nobody’s perfect, leaders have flaws, but there are some flaws that are sudden death to good leadership.
With that said, a smart leader will look at himself critically and be able to determine where his flaws may lie.
As an executive coach…
my coaching philosophy does not focus on leadership weakness but rather their strengths. Building on a leader’s strengths is a far more efficient way of enhancing change than being fault focused.
Nonetheless, as a leader of an organisation, myself, I’ve learned (and still do) to be aware of certain weakness to guard myself against them.
Zenger and Folkman conducted two surveys, in one, they’ve collected 360-degree feedback data on more than 450 Fortune 500 executives and noticed the common characteristics of the 31 who were fired. In the second, they’ve analysed 360-degree feedback data from more than 11,000 leaders and identified the 10% who were considered least effective. When they compared the ineffective leaders with the fired leaders they’ve come up with the 10 most common leadership shortcomings, which commonly plague leaders everywhere in the world.
Every bad leader had at least one, and most had several.
While leadership is not seeking perfection but consistent and steady improvement in one’s character and competency is non-negotiable.
No matter how gifted an individual may be, or how prominent a position he may hold, we are still are human. Unfortunately, most leaders chose to ignore that we all need “working on,” and rather than choosing to ignore this reality, the best leaders are the ones who are able to acknowledge and address their shortcomings.
10 Fatal Leadership Flaws:
1) Lack energy and enthusiasm
They see new initiatives as a burden, rarely volunteer, and fear being overwhelmed.
One such leader was described as having the ability to “suck all the energy out of any room.”
2) Accept their mediocre performance
They overstate the difficulty of reaching targets so that they look good when they achieve them. They live by the mantra “Underpromise and overdeliver.”
3) Lack clear vision and direction
They believe their only job is to execute. Like a hiker who sticks close to the trail, they’re fine until they come to a fork.
4) Have poor judgment
They make decisions that colleagues and subordinates consider to be not in the organisation’s best interests.
5) Don’t collaborate
They avoid peers, act independently, and view other leaders as competitors. As a result, they are set adrift by the very people whose insights and support they need.
6) Don’t walk the talk
They set standards of behaviour or expectations of performance and then violate them. They’re perceived as lacking integrity.
7) Resist new ideas
They reject suggestions from subordinates and peers. Good ideas aren’t implemented, and the organisation gets stuck.
8) Don’t learn from mistakes
They may make no more mistakes than their peers, but they fail to use setbacks as opportunities for improvement, hiding their errors and brooding about them instead.
9) Lack interpersonal skills
They make sins of both commission (they’re abrasive and bullying) and omission (they’re aloof, unavailable, and reluctant to praise).
10) Fail to develop others
They focus on themselves to the exclusion of developing subordinates, causing individuals and teams to disengage.
These sound like obvious flaws that any leader would try to fix. But the ineffective leaders that were studied were mostly unaware that they exhibited these behaviours.
In fact, those who were rated most negatively rated themselves substantially more positively. They thought more highly of themselves as they ought to, resulting in their own professional demise.
As a leader, you should take a very hard look at yourselves and ask for candid feedback on your performance in these specific areas.
Your jobs may depend on it.
Inspired by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman and Harvard Business Review