Leadership Derailment

ztrain wreckWe see it in the lack of leadership exhibited in some departments and it is prevalent in the business world as well. In today’s marketplace, the difference between effective managers and those who become sidelined before hitting their peak has a lot to do with the way in which they motivate and inspire their followers.  Traditional methods of “leading” are still used, despite evidence that their side effects can doom organizations.  In private industry, boards, concerned about the effect on the long term health of the company, have begun to see that a bottom line-oriented, results-driven workplace actually stifles innovation and the ability to flex. Managers who are insensitive and abrasive chase away open-minded individuals; open-minded and creative thinkers are needed to come up with novel solutions to modern challenges.

A list of reasons for executive derailment read like a skill set for the “worst bosses of history”: cold, arrogant, untrustworthy, overly ambitious, selfish, unable to delegate or build teams, and unable to select or acquire appropriate staff.  These traits can be associated with some of the biggest business failures in modern times. When the arrogant make mistakes, they are monumental. When chiefs fail to surround themselves with good people, any number of problems surface. They either burn out because they are carrying a lot of the load, or they burn others out, or worse; they create an environment where individuals resist change because they lack trust in the leader’s motives.

According to Greg Satell, in Forbes (2014), successful managers cannot claim an open door will keep them connected with their subordinates. Not leaving the office creates a wall; a leader must seek their people, they need to be connected with and challenged. Lencioni, in Five Dysfunctions of a Team, tells the story as well by pointing out that the problem isn’t always the structure but the informal relationships that evolve; trust is essential for teams to create productive dissent and to solve issues by considering paradigm-breaking methodologies (Lencioni, 2002).

Managers and Chiefs must employ people skills whether they like it or not.  If they don’t have these naturally, they need to seek those who can educate or coach them, otherwise, their time in the corner office is likely to be a short one.

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