Wouldn’t it be great if there was a pill that could enhance leadership performance? Imagine a one dose wonder that could magically bring about hours of inspired leadership. Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it? Especially if you’ve ever worked in an organization that could benefit from this kind of treatment.
The signs of poor leadership are often glaringly obvious, but they can also be quite subtle. If you’re struggling to diagnose a potential leadership issue, here are three key symptoms to watch for:
The thing about bad leaders is that they aren’t necessarily bad people. In fact, they can be some of the nicest people you know. Which means they might be afraid to upset the apple cart. Or the team.
But if the leaders in your organization aren’t thinking strategically, making tough decisions, and empowering everyone to succeed, they aren’t actually leading. And your organization may be suffering. Do your leaders seem afraid to try new things, commit to the vision, or hold people accountable? If so, you need to help them get onboard, or help them out the door.
If you’re in a leadership position and the thought of doing either of these things scares you to death, you’re part of the problem.
Great leaders may be ridiculously busy, but they always show up when you need them to. If you feel like your top people are playing hide-and-seek instead of follow-the-leader, you need to take a closer look at what’s going on.
Absentee leadership can happen for a number of reasons. Sometimes, people are just too comfortable. They’ve done their time and now they want to coast. Other times, it’s the opposite. They could be overwhelmed by what’s going on in the organization and/or uncomfortable addressing certain circumstances or challenges. Or there could be something entirely different going on, such as a personal situation or illness they may be dealing with.
Whatever the reason may be, an absentee leader isn’t what your company needs.
Has your leader stopped caring? Are tasks being delegated, questions being unanswered, words going unspoken, and problems being ignored? Sometimes people just get worn down, especially in fast-paced, high-stress environments and cultures. This is something to consider when diagnosing a leadership problem.
Again, this could be a top notch individual. Maybe you exchange holiday cards, play on the same soccer team, or get your families together every now and then. That doesn’t mean their leadership style is working.
Has this always been a problem or could it be a coping mechanism that developed over time? Is there a way to reinvigorate the person or position? Are there issues with workload, travel, or schedule demands that need to be addressed? Have there been structural changes that may be contributing to job fatigue?
Think about this person’s style five years ago. Or two years ago. Or even six months ago. Is this typical or atypical behavior? If it’s typical, you’ve got a problem. And one that needs to be put to rest sooner rather than later.
If it’s atypical, you still have a problem. But how you approach solving it may be quite different. In this case, it might be worth trying something like leadership education, executive coaching, or conducting a stay interview.
Find out what’s going on and see if there’s a way to bring this person back to life.
Keeping your business healthy
Diagnosing a leadership problem isn’t just a way to point out bad behavior. It’s a way to uncover symptoms of internal issues before they have a chance to grow and spread. It’s also an opportunity to showcase the kind of leadership you want in your company.
Don’t ignore the signs of leadership dysfunction. Once you’ve discovered the root of the issue, you can come up with a plan to address it in an effective and encouraging way. Have those tough conversations, make those difficult decisions, and keep moving forward.
Start by giving your leaders the skills they need to excel in their positions. Then step up your own game and be the leader your organization needs you to be.
Running into challenges with employee engagement, turnover, and retention? At Raffa Financial, we’ve got ideas to help you address these issues and more. Get in touch to find out what working with a true employee benefits consultant feels like.
Photo by Peshkova