Leadership is not only confined to the field of business, but encircles the span of one’s life. We are all affected or infected by leaders in some way. Either we lead, or we are led in some way.
We can all think of influential leaders that engender enthusiasm and lead with confidence, self-assurance, bravado, and a sense of mission.
A question that is often asked is, ‘are leaders born or made?’ To this we can summon the Bard of Avon, who in his comedy ‘Twelfth Night’ infuses these words into Malvolio, in Act 2, Scene 5 who states, ‘be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ‘em.’ This description succinctly states the point as well as any other. Some are born to lead, while others acquire leadership traits along their journey.
Even though the types and styles of leaders will greatly differ, there are a number of traits that unsuccessful leaders will share.
The baseball coach Yogi Berra said, ‘If you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there.’ This also appears to be a throwback to Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire Cat quote to Alice.
The point is that a leader must know where he or she is going, and if not then what kind of leader could that be? A poor one, and often it is a tragic shame to see a person who has lost their sense of purpose and direction.
The purpose is the foundation of being able to find your way to a destination. In order to get to a destination, it is important to know where you are and where you want to go.
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2. Blaming others
Another sign of a weak leader is that they blame others, and the mark of a real leader is that they must take responsibility for the results that get. They must also take responsibility for things that are done against them.
It is true that things never always go perfectly, and the leader must be able to turn each situation around. Although we cannot control the future we can control our present actions and thoughts about what to do.
To blame others does not remove the root of the problem, it only supplies fuel to increase the size of the incendiary problem. The only way to really succeed is to be focused on the solution for more time than then the problem.
3. Holding onto losing positions
Pride and ego have a great deal to do with this trait, and it is certainly true that a leader must be focused in what they are there to do, and that is to take themselves and their team, group, or organization to a specific destination.
In investing there is a maxim that says ‘cut your losses short and let your winners run.’ This sounds incredibly simple, and it is. However, many people do not follow that advice. Holding onto losers, whether they are staff, friends, investment positions, or anything else that takes you away from where you want to be will forever bind weak leaders together.
4. Making excuses
The problem with making excuses is that the lesson is never learnt. To make an excuse means a belief that a previous action was the right thing to do, although the outcome was not desired.
Often a weak leader will blame their employees although the leader hired those employees, they will blame their customers even though they are choosing to work with those customers, and so on.
Weak leaders will never be able to take responsibility for their actions because they fall back on excuses like a drunken man falls to the ground, ungraciously with a sense of doubt in their ability remain upright.
5. Lack of vision
A leader without a vision is a liability to the success of an organization. This does not necessarily mean that the vision must always remain the same at all times, a number of successful leaders have only known their next step forwards at any particular time.
Sometimes big visions begin with small steps towards that vision. Life is ephemeral at the best of times and disastrous at the worst, and no leader can see the future, however they can see a future, and move towards their vision and shape their reality to match their vision.
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