The Three Reasons Most Leaders Fail


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A study by the Centre for Creative Leadership shows that approximately 40% of new CEOs fail outright within the first 18 months on the job. And, an even larger percentage fails to live up to the expectations of those who hired them.

When getting into a leadership position, it is important that you understand why leaders fail. This is simply because no one can help you avoid making the same mistakes which failed business owners have one. It is even worse if you fail for reasons that are entirely within your power to control.

Here are the 3 most common reasons why most leaders fail:

Shift in focus

A change in focus can occur in various reasons and ways. Most of the time, leaders just lose sight of what is important. The attention and focus that will help them succeed tend to disappear. They start getting distracted by leadership perks like authority, power and wealth.

One feature that distinguishes leaders from the rest is their ability to think big. When their focus shifts, the same leaders quickly start thinking small. As a result, they become too authoritative, micromanage everything which leads them to focus on things that would rather be left to others. In short, these leaders become consumed by trivial and unimportant things. This tendency is worsened by an inclination towards perfectionism. They find it hard to delegate tasks and responsibilities.

An obsession with perfection can cause a leader to focus on “doing” instead of “becoming.” Good leadership lies in a person. When a leader becomes too action-oriented, they might lose touch with what is important. They become stagnant and lose interest in developing themselves. To prevent yourself from failing, always ask yourself what your primary focus is. This will help remind you about what is important as a business owner. Eventually, you will get your focus and be back on track in no time.

Hari Ravichandran, the CEO and Founder of Jump Ventures and iSubscribed knows firsthand the pain that comes with failure. He has built over 1 million websites through his ad-based company with over 3900 employees around the world. Eventually, he has to face failure. His multinational company was stripped down to only 14 staff. Furthermore, there were only 2% of its customers on board. According to him, the failure was a result of focusing on the wrong things. Fortunately, he was able to realize this mistake and used the failure to turn everything around for the good of the company.

Lack of proper communication skills

Poor communication is usually caused by a lack of focus, which results in disorientation. How do you expect your followers to understand what you are saying when you are not sure what it is you are trying to communicate?

Sometimes, leaders just fall into the divining trap; they believe that those employees that are truly committed will sense their goals and do what they want without being told. When the employees’ instructions, the leaders see it as a lack of focus or commitment. The leaders will never see it as their own negligence or lack of effective communication skills. If you don’t want to fail as a leader, learn to say what you mean and want to be done directly.

Richard Branson epitomizes what great communication skills can do. He never avoids asking questions and is open to learning. He inspires his team with great ideas, which he communicates and articulates concretely.

Clarity of purpose is the starting point for all effective communication. This is the key to successful leadership. When you are clear on what you want to communicate, your team will work hard to achieve the goals you shared.

Poor People Skills

Leadership is about making connections, fostering trust, building solid groups and using brilliant interpersonal skills. Great people skills are important when it comes to effective leadership.

A great example of how poor people skills causes leaders to fail is Oscar Munoz, the CEO of United Airlines. After a video of a passenger being aggressively dragged off their overbooked aircraft had gone viral, all he had to say was that he was sorry for having to re-accommodate such customers.

This statement felt cold, arrogant and boastful, which only added injury to the mess. As a leader, he failed to make a connection and show empathy, which could have turned the tide of the situation. Instead, he should have responded with humility. This will redeem his company and show its commitment to offering top quality services.

Leaders who don’t form connections and create an atmosphere of trust and collaboration pay a high cost for it. Having good people skills means that you are intentional about building relationships and connecting with those around you. A good leader should never underestimate the value of good people skills.

If you notice that you carry any of these warning signs, now is the time to protect yourself from failure. As you consider these three warning signs of leadership, do not be afraid to take an honest look at yourself. When you pay attention to these signs and heed their warnings, you can avoid failure and sustain the kind of leadership that is healthy for you, your followers and your company.


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