The Six Consequences of Poor Leadership

Leaders today are under a magnifying glass, with people searching for their every weakness and mistake. Their decisions and actions are constantly scrutinized, criticized and rebuked. In the era of social media and instant sharing, leaders in the public eye face criticisms that hundreds, thousands, even millions of people see, without the leaders having time to explain or defend themselves. Social media has dramatically reduced the time between news breaking and public reaction, which has a major impact on companies. A few clicks are all it takes to create a media crisis that can be costly in terms of compensation and lost sales.

As a result, today’s leaders need to manage their impact and act judiciously. They need the qualities and skills to wield positive, unifying leadership. Sadly, not everyone in management positions demonstrates leadership. In fact, being a good leader means more than just providing the oversight and monitoring required to achieve the team’s results. The role is much more complex when you look at the definitions of key competencies often associated with a leadership position.

Taking this analysis further, we find that the truly good leaders know themselves and are aware of their strengths and weaknesses. They know the things that can derail them or the behavior they will adopt under pressure. They then develop strategies to manage the negative impacts of the darker side of their personality. They understand that if they are derailed, their behavior can have an important, even irreversible, impact on their credibility and the company’s success.

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To increase this self-awareness among leaders, we recommend having them complete psychometric tests, such as the Senior Management in Development test (for positions such as vice-president, president and CEO) and the Team Leader in Development test (for first-level management positions). In their assessment report, they will receive a clear indication of how well they have mastered the various skills.


Here are six possible consequences of poor leadership:

1. They have a hard time inspiring confidence

Never before has the integrity of leaders been such a source of concern. Because of scandals that have tarnished leaders around the world in recent years, leaders worthy of trust are more in demand than ever. The ability to inspire confidence is associated with the values of taking responsibility for the consequences of decisions, fulfilling professional obligations and behaving irreproachably with team members. The more people perceive these qualities among leaders, the more they grant them credibility and legitimacy. And the more leaders know how to inspire confidence, the more the organization’s reputation benefits. Leaders who exercise poor leadership have much more difficulty inspiring not only employees, but also business partners, colleagues and other stakeholders, which can have a direct impact on the company’s success.

2. They find obtaining buy-in challenging

Whether formal or informal, influence is the cornerstone of leadership. Putting someone in a leadership role doesn’t necessarily mean people will follow them; they will follow them if they inspire confidence with their vision and values. It takes others to recognize leaders and confer that status upon them. Influential people use a combination of their character traits, such as charisma, and strategies to promote their ideas, get the merit of their positions across and convince others to buy in and put effort into their projects.
People who show poor leadership will not be able to get employees, colleagues or their boss to achieve the desired results. They will come up against key players who will hesitate to commit to a change or to invest their time and money at the right moment. Essentially, poor leadership from a manager results in a likelihood of their ideas being rejected, even if they might be good for the organization.

3. They have difficulty promoting alignment

Leaders may find themselves in situations where they have to choose between two ideas, visions or action plans. If only one option can be chosen, a good leader has to be able to promote alignment and ensure stakeholders respect the decision.
If leaders cannot make a decision and ensure clear alignment, their reputation may be at risk. Leaders who adopt the wrong approach may be perceived as inconsistent or indecisive. They may alienate people involved in the decision-making process or create divisions on the team.

4. They can't seem to build high-performance teams

Leaders can’t get very far on their own, which is why they need an effective team. They have the important job of creating and nurturing that team to achieve ambitious results. They need to adopt management practices that allow people to put their talents to use, feel like their efforts are important, make a positive contribution to accomplishing organizational goals and achieve success. Leaders have to provide team members support and opportunities for professional development and give them responsibilities suited to their talents. This is how they can generate commitment and motivate them to take responsibility for and put effort into their professional development.
Leaders who exercise poor leadership will have a hard time finding and developing effective employees. They will have difficulty identifying key players who can help them balance their weaknesses. And this will have an impact on the overall performance of the team.

5. They don't create a collaborative environment

Organizations that survive are those that adopt collaborative work strategies that are effective, both within and outside the organization. To create a cooperative work environment, leaders need strong interpersonal skills that allow them to build bridges and maintain useful connections within their network. This leads to better information sharing and problem solving.
Negative vibes associated with poor leadership often reach beyond the immediate team. A poor leader’s behavior can harm the work environment and affect the quality of partnerships outside the organization.

6. They have difficulty creating meaning

People are looking for meaning in their jobs and want to understand the impact of their day-to-day work on the organization. Employees want to feel that people see their work as important and that their ideas and points of view are taken into account. Good leaders can provide inspiration and shine a light on the contribution of each team member.
On the other hand, poor leaders have difficulty demonstrating the added value of every employee, which makes it harder to establish sincere relationships. The risks associated with this type of behavior include loss of motivation, declines in performance and the hasty departure of team members.

Who wants to place their confidence in a poor leader? Follow the path forged by a poor leader? Or put their career in the hands of a poor leader? Poor leadership has major consequences, but the source of the problem too often goes unnoticed within organizations. According to an American study by Hogan Assessment Systems, 78% of employees report that what they like least about their job is their direct boss.

Fortunately, strategies can be put in place to work on professional behaviors and capitalize on one’s skills. Making poor leaders aware of their impact and ensuring they recognize the effect of their leadership style is the first step toward change in the right direction. Making the shift from a poor leader to a good leader is possible... It just takes effort!


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About Martin Cloutier, Co-Founder, Business Leader & Organizational Psychologist
As President of D-Teck, Mr. Cloutier sets the company vision and coordinates its execution. He is the cofounder of D-Teck, and his mission is to reinvent online psychometric tests. An organizational psychologist by training, his approach combines artificial intelligence with organizational psychology to help clients make better decisions about hiring, promotions and development.