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Sunday, November 26, 2023

Unadorned failings of leadership

One of the common failings of leadership is that once they come into power, they lose their connection with the grass root workers and people. They forget that these very people are the real force who would carry out their vision and values to bring the change as they have promised. The disconnection from the ground only creates aloofness of the reality of problems.

More than often, leadership fails to deliver what they promised by committing the obvious mistakes which are visible to all but the leaders. These common mistakes happen because leaders lent their ears to sycophants and status quo builders.

Both these categories of people have their vested interests deeply rooted in the system and they do not want any kind of change which can hurt their way of life or thinking. The leaders fail to see through them and make the following blunders which happen to their fall from glory.

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Galvanizing Vision with the team

The most important task for success is to have a group of people around the leader who believes in the same vision and values as the leader himself. The team must have devotion and dedication towards the same cause, and they need to have complete faith in the leadership promise. However, the leaders when come into power find themselves surrounded by status quo hunters or so-called establishment who scares them to death about any new change or reformation. The people who rallied behind the cause and helped leaders to be at the helm of affairs were sidelined by these vested groups and are labeled as idealist or dreamers.

The vision and values are set aside, and the entire team goes into survival mode and start developing their own interests and blatantly flatters the leader with all kind of lies. The mission as to why on the first place they came together is forgotten and there remains no passion for the win. The distinction between winning leaders remains who can bring together a team or core group with the same passion about vision and motivate the team for a common cause. Having a core group with the same dream is an obvious recipe for winning but in most cases, it is the first one not to be adopted by most leadership!

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Hiring / Engaging the best

Incompetence will breed incompetence. This is not a myth and is a known fact. However, leaders who should hire or engage the best compromise on mediocrity and experienced status-quo. The naysaying establishment does not want brilliant minds and radical changes. They ensure that the new leadership is restrained to bring about people who can challenge the bureaucratic processes and courses. Once an incompetent person is hired not only, he is not respected but also underneath him starts a war of interests and benefits. The sole incompetent person in a critical position can damage the entire cause and vision of the leader.

The leaders who engage the best in the field and empower them to bring changes as per their vision not only succeed but also create a legacy for their work. The competent team is not afraid of taking bold decisions and bringing changes. The competent man is free of insecurities as for him his work defines himself. The leaders need to enable, empower and energize this species and they can bring magic to the table. Having a competent and motivated team is key to any turnaround, again this is an obvious fact but look around a see how often this ingredient is missed!

Reward and Accountability

Great leaders provide clear key performance indicators to their team, review them and clearly state their gratitude or annoyance with the performance of their team members. The appreciation not only motivates the specific individual but also creates a sense of competition in the entire unit. Clear goal-setting and transparent accountability is a must for the motivation of the entire team and the cause for which the entire group has come together.

There should not be any obligation or compulsion if some member is not coming at par with the goals. Nepotism and favoritism kill the spirit and even the high performers become disgruntled and dissatisfied. The fair and merit-based accountability and reward mechanism is a must for winning. The merit if enforced at the core group will ensure that people underneath the teams will also follow the transparent merit and excellence.

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Disconnect with ground

One of the common failings of leadership is that once they come into power, they lose their connection with the grass root workers and people. They forget that these very people are the real force who would carry out their vision and values to bring the change as they have promised. The disconnection from the ground not only creates aloofness of reality of problems but also creates complete isolation from the real challenges which are being faced by the grass-root team members on the daily basis.

The structure starts to erode as problems are not solved and despondency and darkness develop on the team which labored the cause of the leader. The disconnection of leaders creates opportunities for the power-hungry wolves to create their own fiefdoms. The promised cause is completely sidelined as workers feel they have been left in the lurch and they have neither any voice nor any support.

Cutting the feedback mechanism 

The first thing which the sycophants try to achieve is to cut the feedback mechanism to the leader. They ensure that leadership is convinced that the ordinary workers, team members and general critical media is unaware of the real challenges of the governance. They ensure that the leadership is either not provided the complete data or even if the data is provided it is to be kept confidential so that there can not be any alternating view from the team members or any other media channel.

The status quo powers ensure that data is not made available to the core team and media at large so that they may keep carrying out their own designs. The leadership is brought to that level where sycophants and flatterers convince that any criticisms on the policies or appointments are uncalled for and criticisms are being done just for the sake of opposing or to lobby their own interest. The leadership becomes completely deaf and starts believing in this narration. This kills all the hope if any for improvement. The leadership and the core team decision-making miss the feedback loop and start striking down on anything which is against their wishes.

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All the above mistakes are so common, yet these mistakes are repeated so often. Leaders who want to bring change must have a core team having a common and shared vision. He should not be afraid of engaging the best resource. Moreover, the real leader cannot remain disconnected from the ground realities and must heavily rely on feedback and change its strategy accordingly.


Moied Javeed is a senior telecom executive in Pakistan and can be reached at mj@tptglobal.net. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.