Why Leadership Fails? – The Coach’s View


The world is experiencing weakness in leadership today than at any era in history. This is not due to the gap in leadership expertise and competence. It is due to the forever changing context, driven by new technologies. The situation is also made complex and dynamic as a result of growing need for transparency in leadership practices. Not everybody that aspires to become a leader becomes a successful. Most successful leaders are aware that it is not all within their capabilities to be successful. That is why leadership coaching is no longer a luxury but a necessity. It has proven itself to be the most critical human capital intervention that each leader must have. The coach is a strategic thinking partner that challenges the leader in line with the prevailing context and possible future scenarios.

Greed is one of the many reasons leaders are likely to fail. They may be greedy personally or on behalf of their organizations. Realistic thinking is a tactic that could be used to guard against greedy decisions taken on behalf of the organizations. Everybody wants to rule the world. That is human nature. In pursuing to achieve this objective leaders tend to self destroy or destroy their organizations. Leaders are encouraged to put together their own personal board of advisors and coaches to support them in their complex decision making.

The desire to win at all cost is a dangerous game to play. The leaders must not only focus on the ultimate results they want to achieve but the process of achieving such results. They should also be preoccupied with the how rather than only the what. Leaders fail because they invest too much on positional power than influence. They believe that once appointed they are automatically powerful. They have to earn the power and trust of their subjects. Allowing positional leadership to dominate their leadership practice they make it difficult for their teams to be innovative and creative around them.

Positional leadership practice is similar to political leadership, in that they emphasize on respect for authority. There is nothing wrong with that expectation, but it should not be demanded. It must be earned. Where respect for authority is demanded or enforced the team members and/or subordinates tend to fear their leaders. They do things out of fear rather than as a result of them wanting to do. They perform tasks to please the leader rather than out of self drive. The opposite of positional leadership is leadership by influence. That of course takes time to establish but lasts longer and makes more impact on stakeholders than positional leadership practice.

Collective leadership practice is not possible when leaders depend on their authority to lead teams. Team thinking does not take place. Leaders must appreciate the power of collective thinking. We are the beneficiaries of the great philosophers of the past centuries. Many developments originated as ideas that were generated by such great thinkers and philosophers. So, there is value in providing time and space to think. Nancy Klein in her famous book, Time to Think, highlights the value in providing time to think. The leadership that values the collective thinking of their teams will be successful in creating the ideal future for their organizations.

Leaders are not coping with the pace at which the world around them is changing. It is as if the goal posts are shifting daily. For them to build high performance teams they will have to cope with the pace of change. They must be able to create and sustain the change process. In his Team Performance Model, Drexler-Sibbet lists the seven stages of developing a high performance team, namely, (1) Orientation (Why are we here?), (2) Trust Building (Who are we?), (3) Goal Clarification (What are we doing), (4) Commitment (How will we do it?), (5) Implementation (Who does What, When, Where?), (6) High Performance (Wow!), and (7) Renewal (Why continue?). This model is one of the many that leaders can use to simplify the complex task of developing high performance culture in their organizations. High performing teams are made up of self directed members who choose to work for each other.

How to lead in this fast changing world defined by artificial intelligence and the 4th industrial revolution must be the daily conversation among leaders, inside and outside organizations. Not only organizations should be on top of this topic, but countries as well. This conversation must be followed by programmes to keep the countries competitive. Lack of interest in coordinating such conversations is a sure way to failure at organization and country level. As coaches we will not be tired to remind our clients, leaders, of the importance of being ahead of the trends, influencing the future, rather than waiting for the future to happen. The governments and all the public organizations must change the mindset. Rather than fighting the technology platforms, they should invest in research and development programmes. Building individual and organizational capacities is a strategic move. Today competitive countries develop human capital competences to manage and lead in the digitalized world. Leading successfully in digitalized world is the new standard. Such countries will succeed in attracting the millennial talent.   

This new complexity and dynamism cannot be allowed to overwhelm us as the leaders. Let us start the new world order dialogue and conversations to prepare our organizations and countries. That is what is expected of us as leaders. There is so much to do. We do not have time to be embarking on corrupt activities. All the leaders are encouraged to be perpetual students of leadership in the ever changing context.  

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