Growing your business requires a complex, cohesive team effort in order for any real change to happen.
A key part of this effort comes from the leadership team, which means that if they fail, the team fails. Thankfully, there are telltale signs that signal your leadership team is under-performing, which (if caught early enough) can be addressed to solve the issue.
Keep reading to learn more about these symptoms of poor leadership talent and find out how you can fix them!
Gaps in the Leadership Team
Obviously, a ship with gaping holes in the hull isn’t seaworthy. The same is true of your leadership team. If there are leadership gaps high up in the organizational chart, they can create trickle-down problems that can wreak havoc on the company.
Some common leadership gaps include a lack of accountability ownership, excessive internal conflict, team silos, one-way feedback, among other things.
As you could guess, each of these gaps signals that some function of leadership is not being carried out effectively. For example, a lack of accountability ownership within the company as a whole is a direct reflection of how your leadership team operates.
The same is true for the other gaps; they manifest themselves in the entirety of your company at pretty much every level. You can learn more about this top-down culture issue and how to fix it in our blog post about the topic.
High Turnover for Both Employees and Leadership Team Members
In the “great resignation” of 2021, almost 1 in 4 workers have quit their jobs, according to CNBC. However, this wave of resignations wasn’t just entry-level employees and hourly workers that you’d typically expect to have a higher churn rate. In fact, resignation rates are at their highest among mid-career employees, according to Harvard Business Review.
People are quitting their jobs for a variety of reasons, but oftentimes they’re doing so to find a company with better pay, better benefits, and overall better culture. It’s no stretch of the imagination to say that leadership talent has an impact on these factors. If your leaders and employees are leaving in droves, there’s an issue.
Growing Beyond Your Current Team’s Capabilities
This issue is interesting. Growth is obviously good, but if your team is drowning in said growth, there’s an issue with the way your organization is being steered. Think of your company like a ship that’s meant to sail in tropical waters. If the bridge navigates it into arctic swells, it won’t hold up as it should.
In real life, you’ll see this happen when your sales team has been successful in new markets, with the rest of the team struggling to keep up and innovate. This signals a disconnect between the job at hand and the organization as a whole, a disconnect that your leadership is failing to address.
Your Leadership Team is Tasked with Too Many Roles
If you spread your leaders too thin, they cannot execute effectively. This may occur for a number of reasons. For example, a company trying to “trim the fat” might split up an entire team member’s load of tasks to the rest of the team, and perhaps do that several more times until the remaining team members simply can’t keep up with the workload.
This leads to leadership fatigue and plenty of gaps like the ones listed earlier.
Your Team is Missing Deadlines Constantly
Missing deadlines signal that your organization isn’t on the same page. This symptom is very easy to diagnose, but it signals a pretty serious problem that needs to be addressed.
Even if employees and departments further down in the organizational hierarchy are the ones failing to deliver, it comes back on the leadership for setting goals or timelines that aren’t consistently achievable. Back to the ship analogy; if the bridge steers the ship into waters it’s not meant to handle, it’s not the ship’s own fault for taking on water.
Your Company is Not Meeting or Exceeding Customer Expectations
This is another obvious symptom of poor leadership. If you’re continually failing to engage your customers and keep them happy, your organization as a whole isn’t doing what it needs to be doing.
Further, this issue poses a threat to your survival, as competitors will see this as an opportunity to poach your customers. Simply put: if you won’t deliver the results your customers deserve, someone else will. Your leadership team needs to get on the same page to right the ship as soon as possible.
These Issues Won’t Go Away
A telltale sign that something is wrong is, well, something going wrong all the time. If the previous symptoms keep popping up over and over again, it’s for a reason—your leadership talent needs improvement.
However, there are ways to address the issue and get your leadership—and the organization as a whole—back on track.
How to Fix These Issues
Clear accountability structure
Your organization needs a clear structure for accountability ownership, whether that be for the leadership team or the entry-level employees. Everyone needs clear, achievable metrics for success within their roles to know what’s going on. They also need to know what they’re responsible for so that finger-pointing doesn’t happen when something goes wrong.
Sometimes, you need to simply assess whether your leadership talent is properly equipped to handle the accountability ownership in front of them. A great way to determine this is through the “Right Person Right Seat” framework. This helps to build metrics within your company that signal if the people you have are actually cut out for the job. Learn more about it here.
Clear Success Metrics
This goes hand-in-hand with having a clear accountability structure and determining if your leadership team members are in the right spot. You need to have clear, achievable, and time-bound goals for your leadership positions.
If your team members are hitting them consistently, great! If not, then a discussion about if they’re the right person in the right seat is warranted.
Cultivate a Culture of Candor and Transparency
In the book No Rules Rules, by Netflix’s Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer, the importance of candor and transparency are thoroughly expressed. Essentially, they found that having constant, constructive feedback traveling in all directions (not just from the leadership-down) leads to a more positive work environment, better leadership development, and more organizational speed and agility.
How does this shake out for your business, though? Candor and transparency, when carried out correctly, lead to leadership talent coaching from the company itself. Leaders can learn more about how to motivate and empower their team members, and employees can carry out their duties without anxiety and ambiguity shrouding their judgment.
You can learn more about candor, transparency, and how to implement them here.
Although diagnosing organizational issues like poor leadership can be painful, it can lead to greater success. Simply put, you have to know what’s wrong to fix it. Having uncomfortable conversations now allows you to avoid potential disasters down the road.
OneAccord is here to help your organization diagnose what’s going wrong, whether it be leadership, operational, financial, or something else.
Our team of former CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business owners have built their own success over the years, so they know how to help you build yours. We’ll work as an extension of your company, providing you with whatever you need to grow and scale your business. Whether you simply want to diagnose your leadership symptoms, or if you want a guide to take you through the turbulent waters of mergers & acquisitions, we’re here to help.