Twenty Indicators of Failing at Leadership
My favorite leadership failure indicators from his list:
- Leaders who begin their responses to others’ suggestions or ideas with “no”, “but” or “however.”
This one happens all the time. Currently, my department is pushing through a space utilization request. I've had staff at every level of the approval process tell me, "You know that this space is already spoken for, right?"
- Leaders who rationalize counter-productive processes, procedures and nonsensical bureaucratic practices by saying: “That’s just the way it is.”
Oftentimes, it takes more energy to keep the status quo than to consider an alternative. I wanted to do a replication research project when I first got here and was rebuffed. "It'll take too long to get the project approved."
- Leaders who become defensive every time someone questions, or is curious about, one of their thoughts, beliefs or decisions.
Fortunately, we've had a regime change and it appears the newly-instated leadership is open and accepting, which was not middle management's experience with the previous occupants of the C-suite.
- Leaders who are scattered, unfocused and unbalanced—be it mentally, emotionally or physically.
If you don't make a decision, then you can't be accused of making a bad decision, right?
- Leaders who are a source of weakness, confusion and passing the buck in a stressful and uncertain environment.
My director scheduled a call to a specialist in a project I was working on. He commandeered the conversation and asked questions I already knew the answers to and failed to ask the questions for which I needed information. He made both of us look foolish and ill-prepared and wasted this other person's time.
Fortunately, Vajda also offers antidotes to these leadership problems through self-reflection with directed questions. I would encourage you to read them for personal insight and work. I know I used to consider being an expert clinician the height of professionalism. I'm coming up on the two-year anniversary of LT Willman's death and another well-respected nurse attempted suicide this past month. Real leadership is hands-on and messy.
So, how do YOU feel about the idea that “soft skills” are so important to defining your career as a successful leader?