Did you know that around 50% of leaders fail?
Certainly, there is a variety of reasons for these failures. When I think about all of my clients and review some of the literature in the area of leadership failure, a few themes emerge about why leaders fail at such a high percentage.
The most interesting themes are those that suggest the organization, not the leader, could have done a lot differently to help ensure an effective leadership team. The four themes below are strategies organizations can incorporate into their leadership selection, development, succession planning, and engagement processes. Also, it is a call to HR leaders to ensure that the top organizational leaders understand how these themes can quickly derail their mid-level leaders and hurt the organization fairly quickly.
1. Promote high potentials who possess the leadership skills needed for the role and leadership team's goals.
Most organizations select new leaders by looking internally at the highest performing individual contributors. There are a lot of good reasons why organizations do this and looking to your top talent is a good place to build the pool. However, there needs to be a selection procedure in place to ensure these individuals actually have the right leadership skills needed for successful job performance in their role and as they contribute to your organization's leadership team.
2. Empower your leaders to make decisions.
If you don't empower your leaders to make decisions, they're likely to fail in one way or another. Leaders (and maybe even more importantly, their subordinates) know when they don’t have the authority to make decisions. There are a variety of things that can go afoul because of this. However, one of the bigger issues is that prohibiting leaders from make decisions, whether intentionally or inadvertently, will bring organizational progress to a halt.
3. Communicate with your leaders.
Somewhat related to empowering and trusting your leaders is the importance of organizational communication. Nothing derails a strategy or initiative more than not communicating with the leaders who are tasked with executing that strategy. Many times, mid-level leaders are conscientious and take initiative because they want to get projects and work accomplished. However, they can be even more effective if you provide insight into the over-arching goals and business strategy in order to effectively execute the strategy.
4. Offer development and/or coaching to your leaders at the right time.
Prevent leader derailment! All too often, organizations reach out to me asking for help to develop or coach a leader that has already derailed. Typically, the company says that they want to give the leader a chance to show their potential and prove they are truly dedicated to their development. However in many instances, it is already too late. Focusing on leader development before problems arise to increase the chances that your leaders will succeed.
Leader failure is too common. It’s essential that organizations do what they can to set their leaders up for success. By taking a closer look at your leadership team and the skills needed to succeed, and then trusting and communicating regularly with your leaders, you're more likely to foster a healthy and effective leadership team.