The real cost of poor leadership

by REP13 Jul 2015
Read any research on employee engagement and you are likely to find a similar story. Global statistics show only 30 per cent of people are actively engaged at work.

Active engagement means that people feel a sense of emotional ownership and are committed to achieving the objectives of their role. The remaining 70 per cent fit somewhere between somewhat engaged to actively disengaged. The actively disengaged are those deliberately looking for ways to minimise their contribution and even sabotage success.
 
These statistics show the vastness of the untapped potential sitting in most organizations. The unfortunate reality is that at the heart of the issue is poor leadership. Through recruitment decisions, leadership development and employee engagement strategies, there is much you can do to inspire far more than ordinary. The most important things you can do to inspire your own team and support business leaders to do the same are explored through the remainder of this article.
 
Strive for extraordinary
Leaders who bring an uninspired, lethargic, conservative or cautious approach undermine the ambition and confidence of their team. Hesitant and reserved leadership diminishes the belief people have in their own potential and drains the team of vital energy needed to succeed. Without confidence and energy people are unlikely to strive.
 
Thriving people and teams are ambitious and push beyond safe boundaries to give new or challenging things a go; they work hard to achieve results and take the opportunities that come along.
 
Plan to succeed
The starting point of any successful endeavor is understanding and articulating the specific outcomes you want to achieve. Laying out your plans and what you need from each person is fundamental to your ability to leverage the talent and energy of your team to drive optimal results.
 
Engage your team by not only sharing insight to your own thinking but by also allowing them to contribute. Allow people to be a part of the process you work through to determine where you are heading and how you plan to get there.
 
Create an inspiring vision of the future
Every leader I have observed achieving extraordinary results has done so by first creating an inspiring vision of the future that people believed in. These managers have won buy-in through encouraging belief in exciting possibilities and in the team’s ability to succeed.
 
Paint a picture of what you are aiming to achieve as well as the contribution you need each person on your team to make. Ensure vision isn’t limited to the ‘big picture’ view of your organization’s ambitions; the vision each team has of their own future matters just as much in inspiring people to strive. Influence your team’s confidence that big things can happen but also inspire in them a passionate desire to strive to get there.
 
Think beyond conventional wisdom
To achieve the best possible outcomes it’s essential that your team challenge conventional wisdom.

Limiting dreaming to within the boundaries of what is commonly understood or accepted is likely to lead to, at best, ordinary results. Being a leader in any industry takes a willingness and ability to think beyond what is typical – to have the courage to take the road less traveled, or even one that has never been traveled at all.
 
Keep dreaming
Visioning is neither a one-off nor a once-a-year event. Looking into the future, dreaming about what might be possible and imagining the places you would like to go are crucial if a business or team is to achieve their full potential over time. Our ability to continuously grow and evolve depends on curiosity and the desire to keep exploring new and better options or approaches. Leaders who lack imagination and are happy to evolve slowly will struggle to inspire other people to strive for excellence.
 
Uphold standards and deal with poor performance
Inspiring a team to strive for excellence requires that leaders hold people accountable for the standard of contribution they make. It’s essential that immediate steps be taken to address mediocre through to inadequate performance. As poor performers drag down a team’s results, those who are making a positive contribution begin to lose motivation. Failing to deal with the issue will eventually lead others to give up, resigned to the fact that only ordinary is possible.
 
Among the most commonly reported reasons people leave an organization is because they are unhappy with their manager. While it’s common for complaints to relate to the manager’s style, just as often people express frustration with their manager’s failure to deal with the poor performance or behaviour of their colleagues. Often when strong performers feel held back by their manager’s failure to hold some people accountable, they choose to move on.
 
 
This is a slightly amended version of an article written by Karen Gately, author of The People Manager’s Toolkit: A Practical guide to getting the best from people and The Corporate Dojo: Driving extraordinary results through spirited people. It has been shortened to make it suitable for web publishing.
 

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