Despite the popular Silicon Valley sentiment that urges entrepreneurs to “embrace failure” and “fail fast,” most business leaders would rather not have to.
In their new book “Why Leaders Fail,” corporate training coaches Peter B. Stark and Mary C. Kelly identify and illustrate the top reasons people at the top of organizations fall short. Then they offer antidotes to each, as well as quick tips for success that they say, practiced, will enable readers and their employees to “accomplish more and … gain more enjoyment from working together.”
Kelly, a retired U.S. Navy Commander and president of Productive Leaders, and Stark, president of Peter Barron Stark Companies, say their work has made them “aware of how many well-intentioned, really good professionals get promoted into leadership roles, and then fail.” They define a successful leader as one whose strong relationships with their followers “propel the organization toward great achievement.” And, they say, it’s hard work.
Kelly and Stark offer a chapter for each of the top 7 reasons bosses blow it:
- They lack a compelling vision and clear goals.
- They torpedo trust.
- They just don’t care.
- They are unfair.
- They don’t understand we are one team.
- They want to be Miss Congeniality.
- Their confidence becomes arrogance.
If you recognize yourself in that list, fear not. The authors tell you how to turn things around. In fact, even if you’re doing a pretty great job at leading, the book offers some valuable takeaways that could help you sharpen your leadership style.
Among the lessons Kelly and Stark teach readers: steps to building a vision and how to transform it from a “status quo” or “negative vision” to a positive one; ways you could be breeding mistrust inadvertently; whether your so-called open-door policy is effective; and if your honest communications sound more like bullying.
Lest you waste your time, however, check the book’s conclusion first to see if you also fit the authors’ definition of an uncoachable leader. If you think you’re smarter than everyone else, don’t listen, don’t care, have an ego bigger than your brain, or possess a pressing need to be right, you might not be just a lousy leader; you’re also a lost cause.
Follow Adrienne Jane Burke @adajane