There are some traits that a natural born leader will have that makes them shine in a challenging environment. The people that inspire others to achieve are usually emotionally intelligent and brave. As leaders, they are not afraid of confrontation. They front foot the tough conversations and take the necessary action required of a great leader to achieve their goals and visions. This includes the ultimate action, i.e. ‘If you can’t change the people, change the people.’
However, too often, a ‘chocolate teapot’ rises without mandate or merit and is gerrymandered into a leader’s role, simply because they have some knowledge of the functional domain. Requests fall on deaf ears and the impotence demonstrated by the aforementioned teapot results in team disengagement, disharmony and distrust. And without the fundamental trust being in place, the team never feels confident in having uncomfortable conversations and to embrace innovative thinking and positive conflict to get to a better solution. Without the leadership in place to foster trust in the team, they are never able to agree on and be held accountable for achieving the desired goal. Quite simply, a weak leader will never result in a high performing team. Rather, they will give rise to staff turnover, missed deadlines and unproductive cashburn. In short, failure.
We have compiled five top reasons why leaders need to be courageous.
#1 Weak leaders have a lack of vision
Weak leaders are often puppets of someone else higher up. They tend to not have the courage to work to come up with a vision, and as teams usually look to their leaders to provide a vision or work with them to come up with one, it is often the case of the blind leading the blind.
“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality” – Warren Bennis
No vision = no inspiration. No inspiration = no passion. And who wants to work for a leader who has no passion in the role that they play?
Strong leaders have a vision, and work with their team to enhance that vision. They know that a vision will inspire their team to keep working hard towards the goal.
#2 Weak leaders don’t hire the right people for the job
Weak leaders are afraid to assess candidates based on factors that aren’t on their checklist of expected achievements. They cannot see past such a checklist and thus sometimes miss the smartest, most creative people their team actually requires.
Strong leaders are not afraid to hire team members that will challenge them. Strong leaders embrace such challenges and are not afraid to learn from others and face confrontation gently where needed.
#3 Weak leaders leave no room for the unknown
Strong leaders embrace vulnerability and admit to, and own, not knowing everything, because vulnerability is the foundation of building trust. Weak leaders on the other hand can’t stand the thought of being corrected.
Weak leaders do not think outside of the box. They don’t want to learn anything new; they just want to follow what they know and stay on a safe straight line to the finish point, no room for negotiations.
Conversely, a courageous leader is willing to be challenged on their assumptions and actually invite the opportunities to learn how to be better.
#4 Weak leaders will always find a scape-goat
If your project or department is run by a cowardly leader, don’t think for a minute they will accept the blame if a mistake is made. Instead, it will be everyone else’s fault but theirs.
Alternatively, a brave leader and a good leader will always accept responsibility, even when sometimes it is not directly their own fault. They own their mistakes and find continuous ways to improve. Cowardly leaders do not have this attitude.
#5 Weak leaders avoid confrontation at all costs
Weak leaders have zero idea how to face a challenge head on and in good nature. As aforementioned, if there’s a mistake, someone else is to blame. If there is a challenge put to them or perhaps someone has a different viewpoint it is usually approached with a ‘we are doing it my way or the highway’ attitude.
A strong and good leader knows how to efficiently work through confrontation. A weak leader sweeps it under the rug and hides from it.
Chocolate teapot leaders are ineffective at best; starved of the courage that is required to successfully run a team. At worst they’re a complete liability, avoiding all tough areas of being in charge and will simply shut down anything they don’t agree with or avoid it entirely. Projects and businesses don’t typically fail because of technology issues, they fail because of people. Choosing the right people to lead is very important to ensuring the success of your project and your business.
In a nutshell, leadership requires bravery and courage. Choose who leads your team wisely, it may well be the difference between success and failure.
And remember, ‘If you can’t change the people, change the people.’