Why Leaders Screw Up?? Part I

At WORK BETTER Training, the program that I absolutely love conducting is our Leadership Development workshop. In my mind, Leadership is something that makes or breaks a company. History is witness to Companies with great potential faltering because of poor Leaders and poor Leadership skills through the rank and file of the company.

The ultimate job of Leaders (not just the CEO, but Managers at every level) is to produce results. A Leader is as good as his cumulative results and in the modern context, as good as his last few quarters.

So where and why do Leaders screw up?? What are the pitfalls that could be easily avoided with slight behavioral changes? Given my constant interaction with Leaders at all levels of various companies, these in my opinion are some of the reasons why Leaders screw up. (Since knowing what not to do is sometimes more important than knowing what to do). Some of the reasons seem obvious. Some not so obvious. But all of them are relevant. Don’t just read them, feel free to disagree. Either way, try them. Experiment with them and tweak them to your Leadership context.

1. Leaders cannot be Rigid
Leadership is a highly fluid concept. It is an art, not a science (irrespective of the amount of Leadership material available at bookstores). There is no standard formula. There is no one way of going about leading your business or business vertical. Every Leadership situation is unique as it involves a unique set of individuals. Hence, being rigid that things should be ‘Your way or the Highway’ is not something that works in these times. Leaders have to be flexible. If they don’t bend, they will most definitely break. Your ability to change and adapt (a little like cockroaches have) will help you evolve and survive as a Leader. Being stubborn & rigid will make you meet dinosaurian fate.

2. Leaders cannot be Insecure
If you are not comfortable in your own skin as a Leader, the process of Leadership is going to be a very painful one. I have been part of a large Fortune 100 Corporate set up and have seen extremely talented managers fail in their jobs due to their insecurities. (Insecurity Examples: Lack of Self Belief and Confidence; My subordinates may do a better job than me and make me look stupid, etc).
My suggestion to Leaders/Managers is to Up your game. Enhance your Skill Sets. Learn more. Embrace Technology. Feel, Walk & Talk like a Leader. That’s your best chance of getting rid of your insecurities and flourishing as a Leader.

3. Not enough Robust Dialogue
The only way to get the job done (the ultimate job of the Leader) is through the process of robust dialogue with your team members. The litmus test for the same: i. Do your team members feel comfortable about discussing their on-the-job screw ups with you or are they busy hiding their mistakes? ii. Do your team members feel comfortable about letting you know where YOU are screwing up as a Leader? The key to successful businesses is people in the organization talking to each other, discussing the why’s and how’s and getting the job done without the usual “faffing” that we are so used to in companies.

4. Leaders cannot Lose their Cool
Leaders need to know when to hold their emotions and when to show them. As Leaders/Managers, you cannot just react to the external environment as your heart pleases, cause trust me, the external environment is not going to be to your liking at all times. (The problems in your job are the reason your job exists). You can screw up months and years of hard work by one act of rage or uncontrolled behavior. So be more conscious of your emotions. Raise your awareness to the triggers that send you into an uncontrollable emotional tizzy. It’s more important to fight your unruly temperament than to fight your market competition.

More Leadership jazz next month…

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