Leadership expertise isn’t developed overnight. It must be learned over time through experience, training, feedback, and coaching. Most leadership failures can be attributed to a few factors.
First, many leaders were promoted because of their high individual performance or technical knowledge. However, in addition to technical prowess, leaders must also develop the interpersonal skills necessary for building relationships. This means communicating well with people in other departments who may be competing for resources. They must also communicate effectively with higher-level leadership and their direct reports. Leaders who are abrasive, aloof, or insensitive to the needs of others will face many challenges and struggle to be successful.
Most people who advance into a leadership role have spent their entire career delivering results as individual contributors. But only those who learn to maintain or accelerate performance while also building team unity and cohesiveness will succeed in a leadership role. Leaders must learn to build trust, cohesion, and community among a diverse group of team members from multiple generations and backgrounds. They must also delegate appropriately and avoid micromanaging their team members.
Some leaders step into a role with an existing team and need to overcome their status as an outsider and establish a relationship with the group. Other leaders will need to select and staff an entirely new team. All leaders must learn to interview and select team members who are a good fit for the team and organization and will contribute to the company’s success.
Another factor that may detract from a leader’s success is the daily barrage of emails, text messages, and phone calls. We are living in a world full of technological distractions. Leaders must be prepared to handle the intensity that comes with greater responsibility and focus on the key behaviors and actions that will drive the team’s success.
Our ever-changing world requires flexibility and the ability to adapt to change. Not only must leaders define and focus the team on a strategy and goals that will lead to business performance, they must also monitor their implementation plans and adapt them as necessary. This is the only way to keep up with the competition.
Finally, many leaders fail because their behavior does not align with the ethical standards or values of the organization. Ideally, a very clear understanding of moral and ethical boundaries should be a requirement for filling a leadership role—but that often isn’t the case. And sometimes, leaders who are faced with intense pressure and newfound power make questionable choices, stumble, and fail.
Being a well-respected leader is a skill that is learned over time. Qualities of leadership must constantly be worked on and refreshed to ensure leaders are prepared to face the myriad business challenges they confront each day.
To learn more about developing highly skilled, top-performing leaders, contact CMOE.