Leadership, and more so in today’s times, is not a cakewalk. The effective leadership style has undergone a huge transformation in the past few years, owing to numerous factors like millennial and generation Z becoming majority of the workforce, millennials taking up leadership positions, and the increase in global teams across organisations that are big and dispersed. Also, leaders are expected to lead a team with diverse team members, who may or may not have the similar aspirations, skill sets and/or experience.
Effective leadership is quintessential for the success of organisations today. Effective leaders not only drive growth during the sunny days, but also shine when the going gets tough. They are widely respected and have the ability to motivate people to put in their best for the organisation. Good leaders are much needed to keep up the positivity and the morale across teams.
However, it is not easy to be a good leader. To be a good leader, it is not sufficient to be just bright, articulate, ambitious and benevolent. Good leadership is also not about being a good manager. There is no rulebook for effective leadership but there are some traits that are a clear no-no, if one wants to be good leader.
Some of the traits of an ineffective leader that one needs to be away from:
- Renders opinions: One of the biggest challenges with an ineffective leader is that he/she is not clear about what they want to say. Ineffective leaders will come up with long explanations for a simple point, thereby sounding confused and confusing others. Ineffective leaders tend to ramble ideas and create chaos. They come up with numerous ideas, in their attempt to show they have a vision, but never have a concrete action plan in place and hence, end up with no results.
- Believes in divide and rule: There are numerous leaders, who thrive on creating an environment where their direct reports fight amongst each other, to make their presence felt. These ineffective leaders want attention and hence, believe in creating a non-cohesive team. They encourage a work environment wherein team members complain about each other to the leaders. They foster a culture of conflict as it helps them hide their own incompetence.
- Takes credit: Another trait of ineffective leaders is that they will not share credit with their team. Instead, the ineffective leaders take credit for all the good work done by their team, and position themselves as the sole reason for the success of the project. Needless to say, ineffective leaders blame their team or other teams for any projects that would not go right.
- Does not have a vision: An ineffective leader lacks a vision or a goal. He/she roams around as headless chickens, only focused on showing that he/she are busy. A usual work day for an ineffective leader includes going through back-to-back meetings, sending reminder emails to their teams and rendering opinions, wherever they can. Meetings are a great alternative to work and they follow this religiously,
- Focuses only on what is wrong: Ineffective leaders build a team of insecure individuals. They only focus on highlighting what is going wrong. An ineffective leader will shy away from appreciating the good work and instead, will only focus on what did not work.
- Controls everything: An ineffective leader wants to take control of everything. He/she does not understand that leadership is about leading and inspiring. He/she will be reluctant in delegating or letting his/her team members run projects. An ineffective leader tends to micromanage as he does not trust his team to deliver their job. These are the leaders who love to be marked on all emails and follow up on tasks, without even bothering to check their mails to see if the tasks have already been completed or not.
- Lacks patience: This is the tricky one. An ineffective leader can get rude for no reasons and lose his/her cool. He/she can also indulge in public shouting to demotivate an employee who makes the leader feel threatened about his/her position. A bad leader will bully and intimidate employees and most of the times for no reason. He/she will not have any logic for this ‘bossy’ behavior.
Ever since I started my career, I have worked with numerous leaders, across various age groups. Some have been very inspiring and effective and others have been like your worst nightmare, with no vision but the zeal to micromanage everything! These are not young leaders who no experience in leading teams, instead, most of the times these are leaders with over 20 years of experience. The younger leaders have their own set of challenges and might be seen as ineffective as they tend to let their team members be and only focus on results. Irrespective of the years of experience, an effective leader stands out because he/she is highly respected and can easily build a very cohesive team that is committed to follow a specific goal.
An ineffective leader can be detrimental to the success of a team or the organisation at large. S/he can lead to a culture of crisis and chaos, can create an environment of insecurity where every person needs to fight to survive, but will never lead any fight himself. In turn, s/he tend to burn out employees.
While one might not be able to be 100% effective, it is advisable to do a quick check and course correct so as be a good leader. Good leaders are trustworthy, passionate, confident and have the innate quality of inspiring others. It is also advisable for organisations to create an ecosystem that enables effective leadership. Good leaders need a support system so they can do their best and maximize their team’s potential. The future belongs to organisations that empower their effective leaders and also have a focused plan in place to build effective future leaders.