We often say that there is as much to be learned from the ‘bad’ as there is in the ‘good’, so I thought I would pass along this article. They suggest these are the warning signs of failure:
- A Shift in Focus – This shift can occur in several ways. Often, leaders simply lose sight of what’s important. The laser-like focus that catapulted them to the top disappears, and they become distracted by the trappings of leadership, such as wealth and notoriety.
- Poor Communication – A lack of focus and its resulting disorientation typically lead to poor communication. Followers can’t possibly understand a leader’s intent when the leader him- or herself isn’t sure what it is! And when leaders are unclear about their own purpose, they often hide their confusion and uncertainty in ambiguous communication.
- Risk Aversion – Leaders at risk often begin to be driven by a fear of failure rather than the desire to succeed. Past successes create pressure for leaders: “Will I be able to sustain outstanding performance?” “What will I do for an encore?” In fact, the longer a leader is successful, the higher his or her perceived cost of failure.
- Ethics Slip – A leader’s credibility is the result of two aspects: what he or she does (competency) and who he or she is (character). A discrepancy between these two aspects creates an integrity problem.
- Poor Self Management – Tragically, if a leader doesn’t take care of him- or herself, no one else will. Unless a leader is blessed to be surrounded by more-sensitive-than-normal followers, nobody will pick up on the signs of fatigue and stress. Leaders are often perceived to be superhuman, running on unlimited energy.
- Lost Love – The last warning sign of impending disaster that leaders need to heed is a move away from their first love and dream. Paradoxically, the hard work of leadership should be fulfilling and even fun. But when leaders lose sight of the dream that compelled them to accept the responsibility of leadership, they can find themselves working for causes that mean little to them. They must stick to what they love, what motivated them at the first, to maintain the fulfillment of leadership.
They recommend considering the six warning signs and take an honest look at ourselves. By paying attention to these signs and heeding their warnings, we can avoid disaster and sustain the kind of leadership that is healthy and fulfilling for both ourselves and our followers.