Failure of Leadership
Leadership is all about taking action. Moving proactively to step up and work to enable our organizations, communities, colleagues, friends and families achieve goals, solve problems and advance progress.
Effective leaders can quickly determine when leadership is needed in a given circumstance and are usually ready to act. But there are times when these leaders are sidelined or constrained in some way by their organization and cannot respond to the cries for leadership.
Like the survivors of the Titanic watching the great liner slip beneath the seas, these constrained leaders can only watch in horror as the failure of leadership takes it toll.
A failure of leadership can have far-reaching and damaging outcomes:
- A lack of clear leadership creates a vacuum. It’s not clear who is in charge. Decisions are delayed or never made. People reach out to natural leaders desperately looking for direction, advice and support.
- Failure of leadership leads to a breakdown of communications. Everyone is talking yet no one is listening. Messages become garbled and it becomes harder and harder to fin the source of truth. From here, the rumour mill takes over further damaging relationships and spreading disinformation.
Loss of trust
- The resulting anarchy and rumour mongering quickly erodes trust. Inter and intra-group communication becomes strained. Transaction costs start to rise.
- The final symptom of a failure of leadership is paralysis. People give up. Simmering issues begin to heat up and occasionally explode. Those who should be in charge also become paralyzed because the issues have spun out of control and are simply too big to manage.
Of course, the longer a failure of leadership is allowed to persist the harder it is to correct. Much like the Titanic, it wasn’t going to magically refloat itself after it sank that tragic night 100 years ago.
Organizations must be quick to recognize a failure of leadership. Egos, feelings and even organizational structure must be put aside to address it. Timing is everything when intervening to resolve a failure of leadership. Those tasked with this intervention must be decisive and not be mired in endless process with no clear outcomes. Expectations must be clear and well communicated. Engagement with staff, colleagues, community and other stakeholders must be action-oriented, respectful and sincere. People need to know where they stand and what is expected of them. Communications should be crisp, timely and transparent. Trust-building is paramount.
There can be no excuse for a failure of leadership.
Have you experienced a failure of leadership? Does this post resonate wth your experience? Appreciate your comments.