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Be it Steve Jobs, Elon Musk or Bill Gates, these people are known for driving the growth of their companies through strong leadership. A good leader can take a failing business and turn it around, while a bad leader, on the other hand, can ruin even the most successful company. Leadership is essential to the growth and success of any business — but what happens when that leadership fails? What are the symptoms? How can you tell if your business is being led by a failing leader? Here are six signs of failed leadership that you should watch out for:
1. Selfish leadership style
Selfish leadership centers around the leader and not around the team. Their efforts, ideas, and goals are always leaning towards the betterment of themselves. From their perspective, it’s all about what they can do to make themselves look good. It’s about feeding their ego. They disguise their concern for themselves as “looking out for the best interests of the company.” But in truth, the team’s opinion doesn’t matter to them. They make all the decisions without input from others, they take all the credit for successes, and worse, they blame their team for any failures. For them, having the authority as the leader entitles them to become right all the time. As a result, this kind of leadership creates a toxic work environment where creativity and innovation are stifled.
2. Resistant to change
When a business is under the leadership of a bad leader, growth and change are always met with resistance. New ideas are shot down, and any suggestions for change are always met with negativity. This resistance stems from their unwillingness to leave their comfort zone. They believe that “if it ain’t broke, there’s no need to fix it.” They see growth as something unachievable and are content with the status quo. Their close-mindedness prevents them from being able to see the potential in new opportunities and restricts them from taking necessary risks. As a result, the company becomes stagnant and unable to adapt and compete in an ever-changing market.
3. Incapable of leading themselves
A bad leader always seems to have the best image, but the majority of the time, they’re all talk and no action. They are empty shells of what a leader should be. They’re always quick to give orders and make decisions, but when it comes to doing the work, they’re nowhere to be found. They’re incapable of leading themselves, let alone a team. This is because they lack the discipline, focus and drive to see things through.
Their lack of follow-through is a direct reflection of how lightly they take their responsibilities. They’re all about preaching, but they don’t see the need to practice what they preach. Let alone making it a lifestyle. They hate to commit and are always looking for the easy way out. They’re not committed to their own goals, so why would they be committed to the team’s goals? This inconsistency is evident in their personal life as well as in their professional life. As a result, they’re not only bad leaders, but they are also terrible role models.
4. Unable to take criticism
One way to easily spot a bad leader is to give them honest feedback. A bad leader is incapable of handling criticism. They see any form of criticism as a personal attack and a challenge to their authority. They can’t take constructive criticism, because they believe that it makes them look weak and incompetent. As a result, they surround themselves with “yes men” — people who only give them the validation that they seek. They fear honest feedback and build an echo chamber where their ideas are constantly being reinforced. In their process of chasing validation, they bury valuable feedback that could reveal the actual problems.
“What we reveal, we can heal.” If the problems are never revealed, they can never be fixed, and the team will stay on a path devoid of growth — a path where they’re merely surviving instead of thriving.
5. Not acting according to their core values
Core values are the foundation of any business. They are our guiding beliefs, and they dictate how we behave. Behavior is what drives our results. When a leader doesn’t act according to their company’s core values, it heavily affects the results that the company gets. The most important reason for having core values is to establish decision-making filters. But if a leader cannot stick to it, it’s only a matter of time before their decisions start to impact the company in a negative way.
6. Cannot inspire growth
A leader should be someone who inspires growth in others. They should be able to cultivate others to become leaders in their own right. We shouldn’t forget that the number one job of a leader is to create a path where the team can grow. If a leader doesn’t understand this, they will not be able to create a plan and an environment suitable for growth. All they will be able to do is keep the company in a state of survival but never establish the proper conditions for growing the team to its fullest potential.
There could be many factors that can cause a business to fail. But whatever these problems are, it always comes back to having poor leadership skills. Leadership is the make-or-break element of a business. And a lot of times, it’s the difference between a successful company and a failed one. To avoid serious repercussions, we must be aware of the symptoms and traits of failed leadership, and remember, “There are no business problems, only leadership problems.”