While good leadership is the pivot for establishing superior organisations, it is rare and fact is that poor leadership surrounds us. Companies are finding it increasingly difficult to navigate the tough times with any reasonable degree of assurance and that can clearly be ascribed to a certain leadership deficit.
Incompetence is easy to recognise. Often a poor leader creates the perception of being busy and organized. Such leaders are focused more on their personal needs, on keeping their own jobs rather than on the professional needs of those below them. They have a hard time developing their employees. Managerial incompetence threatens to sink the organisation if unaddressed. The question is – how do we know when we are dealing with these flaw ridden individuals. I am sharing some tell tale signs that should start to ring the alarm bells :
Bias against action: one is confronted with choices multiple times each day. These can be paralysing – you wait for more information, more opinions, more options and simply delay exercising the choice. Generally this tendency is born out of fear of making a mistake. Real leaders display a consistent bias for action that provides directions to people while continuously moving the organisation forward. There never is that one best decision and a good decision today is worth far more than a perfect one later.
Crisis manager : every leader is expected to deal with crisis at times but if that is the norm rather than exception, if that is the dominant operating style, you may as well kiss goodbye to innovation and progression. Success is a function of proactive thinking and planning. Otherwise competition passes by you quickly. Crisis managers never have a long term or strategic view and are very here and now oriented.
Sub-optimal employee sensitivity : this has many dimensions. Reprimand in public and praise infrequently, in private when just the opposite should be the rule. Is the environment unforgiving when people make incorrect decisions, not standing behind subordinates when they fail. If employees try their best in a situation and still are unable to come through, they should be commended on their effort and not punished for the failure. Sensitivity also implies a direct, honest and mature people handling and inability here is a critical warning sign.
Weak hiring : as leaders, you are expected to hire the best talent – people smarter than yourself. Incompetent managers feel threatened and often do compromise hiring that inflicts a long term structural damage on the company. Such leaders end up being forever focused on small, less important tasks thereby leaving the bigger tasks – which is their core job – unattended. Another related aspect is that every good manager has alumni eager to join the team again – smell a rat if otherwise.
Casual about timelines : for any reasonable progress, work has to get accomplished in a time bound manner. A deadline is a commitment. Managers who cannot set and stick to deadlines cannot honor commitments. The team can never feel a true sense of achievement in such a situation – you can’t celebrate milestones if there aren’t any!
In my professional life I have observed many more behaviours that equate to failure. I can really go on and on. Good idea to leave it for you all to add from your experiences and make us all richer!