Quite often, those hired for leadership positions are skilled professionals with minimal leadership training. While many promoted to leadership positions demonstrate they have leadership potential, far too few are provided with the tools needed to improve their leadership skills and hone their craft.
As a result, many of today's leaders are complacent and less effective than they could be. They rely on ineffective or outdated practices. Ineffective leaders often need a bit of inspiration. They need the ability to recognize the signs of weak leadership and enough information to motivate changes in their thinking and behavior.
Recognizing the Signs of Weak or Complacent Leadership
When a person achieves a position of leadership, it is natural for employers to assume they have the skills necessary to lead effectively. Sadly, this is typically not the case. While leadership skills are easily taught and learned, many leaders are left to their own devices, learning to lead through trial and error or by emulating their predecessors. Marginal success breeds complacency. Productivity stalls, communication breaks down, and business stagnates. Consider the following signs and symptoms of ineffective leadership skills.
Displaying a Lack of Communication Skills
A strong leader needs to have the ability to set goals and communicate effectively with their team to achieve results. Communication involves more than telling direct reports what needs to be done or imposing deadlines. A leader with weak communication skills may:
- Focus on team members' weaknesses without providing solutions or guidance
- Fail to effectively communicate ideas, deadlines, or expectations to their team
- Speak more than they listen, rarely acknowledging the input of others
- Appear distant, unapproachable, or uninspiring
- Provide feedback to team members in a manner that reduces member engagement and increases costly turnover
For leaders to lead effectively, they need to have exceptional communication skills. Communication is the key to creating an atmosphere of collaboration and trust. Studies show that communication skills, active listening, and open-ended questions, are essential to effective leadership.
Taking Credit and Placing Blame
While leaders are responsible for the success of their team, a leader who is lacking in leadership skills may take full credit for team accomplishments. Weak leaders present innovated ideas as their own, yet manage to blame their team or specific team members when something goes wrong.
While a weak leader claims ownership for any work produced by their team, the consequences of this self-serving behavior are clear. When employees are not recognized for their valuable contributions, business suffers from decreased team member engagement, decreased productivity, and a potentially high turnover rate.
Too many leaders fail to realize that taking the time to make others look good makes them look better to others. These are the leaders who demonstrate fairness, empathy, and compassion. It's not too surprising that leaders who are not afraid to give credit where credit is due are ranked much higher when evaluating their leadership skills. They are perceived as more fair, more committed to their team, and more willing to do what is best for their company.
An Unwillingness to Acknowledge Their Weaknesses
The leader who insists upon appearing all-knowing and infallible will not likely gain the trust of those around them. Leaders hiding behind the misguided belief that they can't show weakness often come across as impersonal and cold. They create an atmosphere where team members also fear asking questions or asking for assistance. Leaders who fear vulnerability tend to:
- Refuse to admit their faults or correct their behavior
- Resist asking for clarification, advice or feedback
- Deny their feelings and emotions
- Discourage vulnerability in others
- Resist connecting with their team on a personal level
Today, strong leaders understand the value of acknowledging their own shortcomings and relying on the strengths of each of their team members. By acknowledging their human nature and embracing their vulnerability, and by asking for feedback and assistance, leaders have the opportunity to build working relationships based on mutual trust. Leaders who are not afraid to express their vulnerability encourage authenticity and creativity.
Faltering Motivation and Workplace Complacency
When leaders become complacent or lose their motivation and drive, a business can falter. When leaders get comfortable with their position, possibly uninspired by their routine, they often lose their ability to lead effectively. It is difficult to find purpose in leadership if there is no clear destination. Complacent leaders, those willing to do just enough to get by, or afraid of disrupting the status quo cannot inspire others or achieve true success. The dangers of complacency or having low expectations include:
- Failure to set goals or stretch boundaries
- Setting easy goals rather than adapting their strategy to achieve significant results
- Failure to establish a clear vision and motivate their team
- Loss of revenue resulting from missed opportunities
Relying on Ineffective or Outdated Coaching Methods
When a leader is complacent in their role, they often neglect the significant task of coaching and mentoring their team. When leaders do not understand the necessity of coaching their direct reports they lose out on the opportunity to bring each player to the table in their best capacity.
Simply providing feedback is rarely enough. If a leader is not routinely meeting with their team members one-on-one, and working to improve productivity by providing their team with the tools they need to succeed, they are not an effective leader. When leaders actively coach, all team members are given an opportunity for continuing success. Just a few of the symptoms of ineffective coaching include:
- Neglecting to set a coaching agenda based on individual needs
- Failure to set clear goals and expectations
- Neglecting to create a plan of action
- Failure to provide instruction and feedback
- Inability to hold team members accountable to coaching objectives
Lack of Emotional Intelligence
A leader who is unable or unwilling to consider the thoughts, feelings and personal needs of their team members typically lack emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence requires self-awareness, empathy, and the ability to anticipate the impact of their management techniques. The leader who lacks emotional intelligence may display one or more of the following traits:
- Difficulty with self-regulation- may display disruptive impulses, are quick to anger, or neglect to consider the feelings of those they engaged with
- Lack of Self-awareness – those without self-awareness typically do not recognize the repercussions of workplace negativity or have a clear understanding of how to motivate others
- Difficulty with Social Skills- social skills require insight, sensitivity, and effective communication skills. Without social skills, words and actions may be unintentionally inappropriate or misinterpreted
- Have Difficulty Motivating others – may not set defined goals or commit to success. Fail to understand what motivates people. Motivation and self-awareness are deeply connected
- Lack of Empathy – do not have the ability or desire to consider how they would feel or react in similar circumstances. Often oblivious to non-verbal cues
Enhancing Leadership Skills to Combat Leadership Complacency
The most effective leaders have the ability to set goals and implement a direct plan of action. They close performance gaps and empower team members to meet and exceed organizational goals. Effective leaders are aware of their current strengths and areas in need of development. They work collaboratively with their teams, encouraging creativity and initiative while helping their organizations move forward.
While many leadership skills are believed to be innate personality traits, it's important to know that most effective leadership skills do not come naturally. By investing in leadership training, leaders, and future leaders learn to communicate effectively, lead compassionately and empower their teams to function effectively.
Leadership training combats complacency and motivates managers and team leaders to improve their performance. Leadership training empowers your managers, supervisors and team leaders with the skills they need to encourage and mentor their teams in an atmosphere of collaboration and trust. Just a few of the benefits of leadership programs include:
- Empowering leaders to think strategically, beyond day to day operations
- Improving communications skills and encouraging emotional intelligence
- Teaching leaders to effectively solve problems and nurture relationships
- Establishing proven methods of mentoring and coaching effectively
- Creating a working environment that embraces collaboration and initiative
- Empowering leaders with the skills needed to recruit, hire, and promote talent
- Improving prioritization skills and time management
Your business needs leaders who can provide guidance, delegate responsibilities, and coordinate the needs of your organization to the capabilities and talents of their teams. For training and development programs, online elearning, and leadership resources contact NexaLearning. Our leadership training programs provide an engaging, highly interactive format. Focus on enhancing your organization's leadership potential and team building skills without worrying about the high cost of travel. Invest in leadership development and minimize leadership complacency with NexaLearning.
Leaders play the most critical role in your organization to propel it powerfully into the future. Download our whitepaper "How to Help Managers Develop Leadership Skills" to learn the three essential skills for managers and supervisors to lead effectively.