If you were to guess how many books have been published on leadership, what would your answer be? In the hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands or millions?
There are more than 60,000 leadership books on Amazon and close to 10,000 on Booktopia. There are also many leadership frameworks and models, yet effective leadership is still, at times, thin on the ground.
The Gallup group found that 82 per cent of employees see their leaders as uninspiring. Only 15 per cent of employees are engaged at work, and only one in three employees strongly agree that they trust their organisation’s leadership.
As a leader, your behaviour sets the standard, including the behaviour you accept from the leaders that report to you.
Remove the blinkers
When you lead other leaders, you need to keep your eyes wide open and ears tuned in to the right frequency to know what’s going on.
It can be hard to accurately assess the effectiveness (or otherwise) of the leaders in your team. Sometimes, senior leaders miss what’s happening because they are blinkered.
The leaders in your team might be adept at managing up, so you only ever hear good news.
Alternatively, you may shut your eyes to the actual state of the person's leadership. Perhaps, you rely too heavily on them. Maybe they are the star sales performer and delivering outcomes.
It is also all too easy to hold fixed views on colleagues, especially if you have worked together for years or are on friendly terms. A strong bond may mean you are reluctant to see (or act) when you sense their leadership isn’t hitting the mark.
The reasons are many, but none of them is a valid reason for sidestepping your responsibility as a leader. It’s essential to check the warning signs and take action if needed. Here are 10 warning signs to look out for.
Notice how your direct report behaves in front of you and in meetings with their peers or team. Consider if their behaviour is consistent or changes based on who is in the room.
It’s always about them
Consider if the leader never acknowledges their team’s efforts and always talks about themselves and what they need, focusing on ensuring they alone look good.
It’s never their fault
The leader is reluctant to admit mistakes and seeks to blame others, so there is little or no scrutiny on how they need to change or improve. Similarly, their team appears to struggle to regroup and learn when things go wrong.
They won’t compromise
They are unwilling or find it very hard to change their mind, and always seek to get what they want, whether it’s resources, rewards or approval of ideas. They rarely, if ever, compromise.
They don’t back themselves or their team
The leader is overly compliant and unwilling to back what they stand for, so they don’t support their team and what they need.
The leader’s team is MIA
You rarely engage with their team, and when you do, the employees seem ill-informed and reluctant to talk to you. They seem to lack cohesion and focus, so there is no ‘team’.
Concern for their team is missing
When you ask about their team, the leader always merely insists everything is going well. They never ask for advice or help, and they brush aside any issues you raise about their team.
They play favourites
The leader always promotes one person in the team over the rest and delegates the interesting work or rewards only to that one person.
They don't support their team
Promotion of team members is rare, suggesting the leader may not be good at coaching and developing. Neither is the team diverse and inclusive, indicating the leader may only be hiring people who fit a specific mould.
The team seems stuck
The work fails to reach the required quality and standard, so there’s a lot of rework, long hours, and high turnover and stress levels.
Warning signs are just that, so the next step is to check and confirm whether your concerns are valid or otherwise.
Michelle Gibbings is a workplace expert and the award-winning author of three books. Her latest book is Bad Boss: What to Do If You Work for One, Manage One or Are One.