1. Operate for selfish and individualistic interests.
There’s probably nothing worse than someone in an organization that forgets that there is no “I” in team. Yet, many of these organizations exist. Weak leaders allow them to persist because they often set the tone for the organization by how they handle these individualistically focused employees in team settings. How do you spot these self-centered team members? Just listen to the conversation in any team meeting when the focus is on individual effort rather than team effort and lack of cooperation is rampant. These teams may display open conflict or disagreement or may be passive/aggressive by appearing to agree in one setting and then individuals denying or changing their intent by email or voicing their discontent or intent to be uncooperative to other team members. Team members frequently and openly dispel requests to support team projects. Ineffective leaders do not communicate desired results and are unable to contain uncooperative behavior. Ineffective leaders are also motivated by self interest rather than group interest that is in turn mimicked by group members if allowed to persist.
2. Lie or misrepresent information.
While ranked number 7, the importance of lying or misrepresenting information is a sure way to be an ineffective leader. This behavior includes outright lying, to covering up critical information, manipulating facts for personal gain or selfish motives. While initial efforts to falsify or manipulate information may go unnoticed, eventually it will be discovered. Failure to disclose critical information is deceitful and will surely be found out by co-workers or subordinates. Leaders who fall into this pattern of behavior run the risk of attracting followers who will collude or support this bad behavior. This behavior is also sure to erode trust which is critical to moral leadership and effective communication in an organization. Without effective communication and trust, a leader is doomed to failure and will lose both followership and support. This kind of leadership is corrosive to any organization.
3. Allow malcontents to set the agenda.
Sometimes individuals in organizations have their own agendas or motives that are not in sync with the goals or objectives of the organization. They initiate rumors, promote backbiting, and use emails to create divisiveness and destroy group harmony. Ineffective leaders allow malcontents to act out in ways to promote their own agendas. Malcontents work hard to lobby against leadership and to undercut organizational performance. Ineffective leaders are unable to address these individuals out of fear or procrastination – hoping the behavior will stop or the person will simply go away, or they can override their influence. Leaders that ignore these rabble rousers run the risk of frustrating team members, creating confusion and a stressful work environment. When dealt with head on, leaders who “cast out the scorner” will see organizational strife cease and harmony resume.
4. Don’t set target dates to complete tasks or projects
A task without a date is just an idea. Asking subordinates or coworkers to perform a task or meet a requirement without a deadline is like intentionally putting a clog in a drain. Workers in this sort of environment function by setting their own priorities and will procrastinate on work they deem as unpleasant or not critical to their job. Leaders who fail to impose deadlines are not providing an essential tool needed for their organizations to be successful – clear expectations of when work should be completed. Deadlines are essential for work prioritization. Failure on the part to communicate deadlines fosters a lethargic environment that can move quickly into crisis management to meet unstated time requirements. Leaders who operate in this manner hurt the effectiveness of their organization and weaken individual performance.
5. Focus on tactical issues and ignore strategic viewpoint
Organizational malaise is one the focuses on the “doing” while losing site of the rationale for the effort. Leaders who focus on the effort without consideration or sensitivity to why they are performing certain work and task completion foster mediocrity. Employees lack motivation in this environment because they lack understanding about what they are being asked to do. Placing work in the content of the strategic organizational environment can be motivating to a majority of employees. The strategic focus can help keep the organization on target and provide a context for the effort. Timelines that tie to organizational strategies have greater relevance. Effective leaders will find innovative ways to provide the appropriate strategic information for employees at every level.