5 Reasons Your Leadership Is Ineffective

Everyone wants to be effective as a leader. You want to have a team that will accomplish the task set before them. However, many leadership struggle to be effective.

I believe there’s five areas leaders struggle with and which causes ineffective leadership. Most of the times ineffective leadership slowly slips in. Before we know it, we’re wondering why no one is following anymore.

When we discover our leadership is ineffective, you might say our leadership is as useless as a screen door on a submarine (Thanks for the beautiful words Rich Mullins).

What are these reasons you ask? Well, here are my top 5 reasons on why your leadership is ineffective.

  • You fail to listen to your team: Do you ever watch the TV show Undercover Boss? It’s not a show I catch often but when I do, I really enjoy it. The premise is a boss goes undercover and works with his employees. Along the way he learns what’s really going on in the company.

    One of the major complaints from team members has to be leadership doesn’t listen to those on the ground floor, in the action zone. Instead, leadership makes decisions from a top level view with little input from those who are dealing with the real issues.

    Let’s begin to change this attitude. Begin searching for those workers who are active and productive. Ask them into the inner circle and let them give their opinion. You’ll be surprised on the insights you’ll gain from listening to those employees.

  • You fail to do what you say: You’ve heard the saying before: “Do as I say, not as I do.” This probably came from your mother or father. As leaders, we tend to carry on this tradition. The truth is it’s killing your effectiveness as a leader.

    Leaders should be following through with their requests. They should also be willing to take on the tasks they’re asking their employees to do. When you’re unwilling to do a task, your team knows it. They can sense it in the way you’re asking or, even, demanding the job be done.

    Become someone who leads by example. Show your team the way and your level of effectiveness will rise.

  • You fail to cast a clear vision: Vision, next to influence, is one of the most important tasks of a leader. You need to lay out a clear vision of where you want your organization to go and have a plan to get there.

    Without the clear vision, your team begins to wander. Frustration eventually builds. Leading to unhappy coworkers and a mass exodus of employees.

    Change course today and begin laying out a firm foundation. Begin crafting a vision for your team to latch onto. Give them a clear focus and help them move towards the goal.

  • You fail to influence: John Maxwell has defined leadership as “Influence, nothing more, nothing less.” If you don’t have influence, you don’t have leadership.

    Search yourself and discover why you’re not having influence. Is it a lack of empathy? Is it not listening to your team? Whatever it is, find it and change paths. Begin fixing what’s wrong and regain the influence you need to lead effectively.

  • You fail to communicate clearly: Communication is essential to quality leadership. It helps make the vision plain. It helps draw your team together. It helps distribute the information needed to do what needs to be done.

    When you fail to communicate, everything begins to falter. People begin to seek out a leader who will communicate, and this person may not have had the title of leader bestowed upon them by the company. Instead it’s by his or her coworkers.

    Examine your leadership and see if this is an issue. Once you’ve pinpointed this as an issue, work to correct it. Take the leap into ToastMasters, find a mentor who’s a great communicator, or practice communicating in front of a mirror. Whatever you do, improve your communication!

Question: I’ve shared 5 reasons I’ve noticed for ineffective leadership, what other reasons would you add to the list? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Joe,

    Great list. Leaders also compromise their effectiveness when they fail to properly evaluate employees and help them grow.

    • Great addition TJ. Team members must have feedback and evaluation for them to grow. What suggestions do you have to help leaders do this?

  • Carol Peterson

    Perfect points. I’d add – we fail to keep the focus on Jesus’ leadership. He’s in charge even when we’re leading. Fortunately…

    • Carol, Jesus was the epitome of great leadership.

    • Yes, when our priorities are out of whack our leadership will fail. First things got to be first thing – all the time.

  • DS

    It seems as though some times “leaders” surround themselves with ‘yes men’, which can have a profound impact. I would also suggest pride can blind leaders preventing them from seeing or hearing what everyone else sees and hears.

    • “Yes” men can destroy companies. When you’re not getting the correct feedback you cannot correct bad actions.

  • Great list.

    I think one thing that hinders leaders from really leading effectively is that they don’t know who they are. They waver. Does that make sense?

    • Makes perfect sense TC. I believe when you don’t know who you are, there’s always that sense of doubt and it’s so easy to change your mind on the task at hand. Why do you think it’s important to know who you are?

      • If you don’t know who you are you can be easily influenced, discouraged or go off track.
        Who we are shapes how we handle life’s challenges. Without a firm understanding of who we are we are like ships tossed about by the waves of life.

  • David

    As one who has worked in a couple of companies where the leaders seem to only want you to say what they want to hear. I have to agree that a leader who surrounds himself with “yes-men” is usually out of touch with the hands and feet that make make “wheels” of their company turn, because I’ve seen the affects. Not the least of which is people just don’t want to stay there. A content work force is a huge asset to any company but it is often undervalued by the people at the helm. There’s a big difference between the boss who sends the message “just be thankful you have a job” and the boss who sends the message “thanks for being here, we have a lot to do”…..

    • David, that’s so true. A great example of that was Circuit City. There was such a change in the leadership dynamic that went from the feeling of the leaders were with you to the leaders were out of touch.

      Do you have any suggestions on how leaders can send the right message?

      • David

        Have a real, honest, conversation with those that are 2 or 3 rungs down the “answer-to” ladder. Don’t necessarily “punish” someone because they call to account an issue with their immediate supervisor. It’s happened to me, it’s extremely frustrating. I recognize there are whiners out there that are virtually never satisfied, but there are just as many people who have legitimate concerns and really care about the company and their job. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Time will tell you which “camp” they’re in. Ask why “thus and such” is a problem, ask if they have any suggestions. Listen – and hear – their suggestions. And even if they don’t have suggestions, at least you, as a leader, have something to consider. If it’s a potentially big problem, dig deeper, ask others who are at the same “answer-to” level. The “rank and file” just might have more to offer than just keeping the wheels greased and the engine oiled ….

  • Well Joe, you took the words out of my mouth. I think you hit the major reasons and I like how you put a failure to listen first.

    • Thanks Kimanzi. I put listening first because I felt it’s an important part of leadership. Without it, you can’t know the status of the “troops.”

  • You fail to relate at both a personal and professional level. People want to know that you are more than their boss, they want to know you also have normal characteristics. People also want to know that you empathize with their struggles at a professional level.

    • Juan, great additions. What can leaders do to show this to their team?

    • Leadership is all about connecting and relating with other people. Great points Juan!

    • Agreed!

  • Hard to add to this list Joe. Maybe fail to hold people accountable for their work and behavior.

    I love your graphic. I feel that way somedays

    • Jim, that’s a powerful addition. If no one is accountable, and you’re not holding them accountable, things begin to fall apart. What would you recommend to those struggling with this?

      When I saw the image of the rusted shopping cart on the beach, I knew it was perfect for this post. I think we all feel like that shopping cart every now and then. It’s just the flow of life. It’s getting out of that funk that’s the key to whether or not we succeed.

      • The only thing I see that works is to make it the major part of each meeting. Put it on the agenda.

        Felt like I was pushing that cart today.

        • I feel for you Jim. It’s never fun. Another point to remember when holding people accountable is to make it about the issue, not the person.

  • I recently conducted an exercise at a team meeting to get more feedback from my team. I asked them to list three things we should start doing and three things we should stop doing. I had intended that to be a 20 minute exercise in a three hour meeting – but the results were so encouraging we spent the entire time doing that. My point, is if you want some feedback (something to listen to) sometimes you just have to ask!

    • That’s awesome Tom. It’s funny how hesitant we can be to ask. But when we do, the results comes pouring in. The next step is to begin implementing the solutions discussed!

  • Great list Joe! Leadership is about influence and if we don’t have it we will not be effective at moving people toward the desired future or results.

    • That it is Dan. We have to keep in mind whether or not we’re influencing as we’re leading.

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  • Great list. I’ve known many leaders who have been really ineffective for these very reasons. One bad thing I’ve seen a leader do was not to lose respect by the people he was leading. When he wasn’t around, people would talk badly about him. All his decisions were questioned. How was he suppose to accomplish anything if no one respected him? It was hard for him to do anything. Admittedly the person was terrible. And I mean, he was a horrible person. No one liked him. Yeah, his team functioned poorly.

    • Steve, that’s a rough position to be put into as a leader. Unfortunately, it sounds like he put himself there. This is a great example of why leaders must care about their team and make wise decisions. What else do you think this leader could have done to improve his relations with the team?

  • Pastor Julie Nowood

    Enjoy the read and an accurate list. In addition, lack of renewal and growth of a leader results in stale and mediocrity in the team. Without the element of progression in the leader- those who are following grow weary and bored.

    The body can only go where the head takes then.

    Thank you for your insight.

    • Pastor Julie, thanks for adding to the conversation. You add a great point to the list. Leaders need to renew or else there will be burnout. Even Jesus took time to rest.

  • You fail to care – especially for your team members.

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