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4 Traits That Plague Ineffective Leaders

"It takes courage to realize that you are greater than your moods, greater than your thoughts and that you can control your moods and thoughts."
— Stephen R. Covey

Who can deny that we are where our thoughts have brought us, and we will go where our thoughts will lead us?

Our perceptions of the world around us will influence our decisions. I believe ineffective leaders often fail not because they're incapable but because they allow their emotions to lead them; they fail to govern their thoughts and feelings.

As a principle-centered person, you will stand apart from the emotion of the situation and other factors that press upon you, enabling you to clearly evaluate your options.

Ineffective leaders tend to share some common traits that undermine their effectiveness. I'll mention four that I've personally encountered.

1. Leading from isolation

"Leaders never create inspiring legacies without friends"

Some studies show that more than 80 percent of all strong connections are formed and strengthened personally. Leaders who distance themselves from others can become overly self-conscious and achieve low levels of influence, preventing them from adding value to their teams.

Dale Carnegie said, "You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you."

One of the simplest ways to connect with people is person-to-person. As a leader, you will become more influential by conversing with your people one-on-one than as a group from a distance.

2. Leading without empathy

Stephen R. Covey observes, "As you care less about what people think of you, you will care more about what others think of themselves."

Show me a leader without empathy, and I'll show you a positional-minded individual.

Krati Joshi writes, "Empathetic leaders display a genuine concern for their team members, whether it is their emotional health, the challenges they may face, or even include showing interest in their lives. By employing empathy, leaders can establish meaningful connections with others, offer assistance, understand their requirements, establish trust, and forge strong relationships." (1)

3. Leading with ulterior motives

"Leadership style is predicated on motives, and those motives influence leadership style directly. One cannot exist without the other."
— William H. Bishop

As a servant leader, your motives are naturally others oriented. As a servant leader, your people become your extended family. You place others before yourself, freely giving without thinking about what's in it for you.

Commenting on ulterior motives in leadership, Doug Dickerson says, "Would I support my plan or idea with the same level of intensity if the idea wasn't coming from me? This question is foundational and fundamental.

An honest answer will shed light on the real motives you have. It's not about who wins; it's about the best idea winning; this is Leadership 101. Until you understand this, your hidden motives will always get the best of you." (2)

4. Leading without learning from failures

Ask for help! Too many leaders feel that asking for help may be perceived as a weakness when, in fact, it's a sign of transparency and self-awareness; it will increase your influence and strengthen your relationship with your team.

In Closing

John Maxwell says, “Leaders who are kind of insecure or egocentric, basically sabotage themselves. All good leaders are connectors. They relate well and make people feel confident about themselves and their leader.”

End Notes

(1) "Why is Empathetic Leadership Important in Today's Workplace?" By Krati Joshi

(2) "What Do Your Motives Say About Your Leadership?" by Doug Dickerson

(3) Failing Forward from the John Maxwell blog

*** This article was authored by John Picarello, Chief Leadership Officer at Lions Pride Leadership Co. ***

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