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5 Fatal Flaws that Cause New Leader Failure

Posted by Louellen Essex on October 23, 2014 in Leadership

It’s estimated that nearly half of new leaders fail within the first eighteen months on the job. The costs of recruitment, training, and orientation of the leader, as well as the negative impact on employee morale, makes this situation highly destructive. Organizations that are guilty of selection blunders often overlook behaviors known to contribute to a leader’s demise. Here are the top five characteristics to watch out for when identifying new talent for leadership roles.

Poor Interpersonal Skills
Leaders are destined to failure when they are insensitive to others characterized by abrasive, judgmental comments and emotional volatility. They often work in isolation, unable to collaborate with others to achieve common goals. Their controlling nature makes them impervious to the necessity of engaging staff members. Lack of well-developed social skills and business etiquette is yet another red flag that a leader lacks the interpersonal skills needed to be successful.

Difficulty Making Tactical Shifts
Leaders mired in detail can easily be thrown off-track by change. Be using overly cautious behavior, they become action averse and arrested in analysis paralysis. This rigidity makes them less adaptable to the ebb and flow of organization and marketplace dynamics. They are simply not agile enough to survive in today’s fast-paced work environment. By lagging behind, they frustrate those around them who are waiting for decisions to be made or innovative ideas to be generated.

Lack of Consistent Follow-through
A leader with this trait might rally people behind ideas and actions, but quickly leaves a trail of loose ends. Unmet promises result in mistrust and endless disappointment. The leader looses credibility with staff members and other leaders. Lack of execution – driving thought to implementation–creates an atmosphere of non-performance. Nothing is accomplished.

Conflict Avoidance
When a leader cannot harness conflict, using it effectively as a stimulus for problem solving and change, the workplace climate stagnates. With mounting unresolved conflict, the tension in the air creates continual anger and frustration. Staff members often feel let down by a leader who doesn’t intervene in conflict, leaving them to fend for themselves. Leaders who avoid conflict often lack negotiation skills critical to facilitating the resolution of differences.

Lack of Self-Awareness
Leaders who fail early in their careers are typically unable to analyze their own performance and adjust accordingly. They lack the self-analytical ability essential to ongoing learning and development. Seemingly unaware of the impact they have on others, they are blindsided by feedback and often have difficulty responding and adjusting. Unable to take responsibility for problems that occur, they shield themselves with a defensive posture, which eventually stunts their growth.

New leaders should be chosen very carefully. Make sure those you bring into leadership roles have high potential to avoid these fatal flaws. While remedial work is possible through training and coaching, these behaviors are difficult to turn around. Be wise in the initial choices you make and set the stage for success from the beginning.

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In these times of rapid change, leaders can never stop learning.”

Dr. Louellen Essex