Being a leader is hard. It’s a lot of responsibility, involves constant growth and development, and requires improvement on a whole host of interpersonal skills. Not everyone is a natural or ‘born’ leader, in fact, some people have to work very hard on their weaknesses in order to reach a position where they can truly lead from the front.
In this article, we will explore 10 leadership weaknesses to be aware of and how you can improve on them.
Generally Poor Communication Skills
Good leadership requires the effective communication of ideas and direction. Poor communication, on the other hand, can lead to a lack of engagement, confusion, and ultimately, failure. Without proper communication, team members may not understand the goals of the leader and might be unable to work together to achieve them.
Tip: Think before you speak, and be brief, yet specific. Do not backtrack or contradict yourself, as this can lead to misunderstandings.
An Inability to Effectively Delegate Tasks
Leaders need to be able to judge their teams, their skills, and their workloads, in order to effectively delegate tasks. Those who don’t know the strengths of those around them and who they can lean on for support often end up taking on too much work themselves, leading to burnout and frustration over time. From the perspectives of team members, seeing a leader who doesn’t delegate can create disharmony, distrust, and resentment.
Tip: Spend more time as a leader getting to know those on your teams and what they’re best at. Identify the people who like to help and can be depended on.
Lack of vision and flexibility
We are all guided by goals, whether consciously or subconsciously, but good leaders are driven by a clear vision of what they want to achieve. Those who lack vision and the flexibility to adjust their limited vision to the realities of business and the workplace will find it incredibly hard to motivate others and adapt to evolving circumstances. When this happens, team members can become confused and frustrated, floating through the week like a ship without sails.
Tip: A vision needs to be written, collaborated upon, and communicated effectively. Work with the key players in your team to define the vision.
Failing to plan strategically
Similar to a lack of vision, a lack of strategic thinking and planning causes teams to fail to see the bigger picture, upcoming challenges, and possible disruptions to workflow. In short - fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Chaos typically ensues when a leader cannot think strategically and struggles to set goals and objectives for their team to work towards.
Tip: Professional training might be the best solution, but for self-guided development, the best thing to do is observe, listen, consider opposing ideas, reflect, and collaborate.
Led by a fear of failure
Those who fear failure and are terrified of making mistakes are typically those who buckle under pressure when it comes to making big decisions. These leaders also struggle to adapt their style to changing circumstances and unforeseen situations, resulting in a lack of risk-taking and valuable opportunities being missed. Hesitant leaders stifle progress and end up falling into patterns of rigidity that teams fail to trust and respect.
Tip: Define the source of this leadership anxiety and work towards overcoming it.
Whilst some leaders are hesitant to act, others have the opposite issue, making rash decisions with poor outcomes because they feel the pressure to act. Focus can be hard to come by in dynamic environments, causing further stress later down the line. Impatient leaders often transfer their stress onto their teams, with this coming out in the form of micromanagement and being too involved in the small details and rapid output. Leaders need to develop themselves and allow others to develop and take initiative at the same time.
Tip: Take a step back, look at the bigger picture, breathe, and implement a new working structure that relieves time pressures.
Some leaders don’t mean to be, but they instigate trouble just through the nature of their personalities. This can come out in different forms, such as being overly competitive with their colleagues, rather than seeing them as collaborators and even friends. Some leaders, in attempts to motivate their teams, end up coming across as aggressive, and whilst acting with the right intentions, end up making poor decisions and lacking consideration for others. In turn, those who create conflicts are typically the worst at resolving them, leading to further issues among the team.
Tip: Learn to be kind and avoid rudeness, cut down on the jokes and banter, and remember that your colleagues may have their own sensitive issues going on.
Poor Listening Skills
Those who listen find it hard to learn, and as the old saying goes, we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Some leaders miss out on important cues, feedback, and information from their teams, making them far less effective in their roles. Those who don’t listen end up being seen as unapproachable leaders whom their teams cannot come to for support or feedback. Communication is key to making teams feel heard and comfortable.
Tip: Don’t interrupt, and don’t simply wait for them to finish speaking in order to talk. Instead, ask open-ended questions to keep the conversation flowing.
Lack of Empathy
Apathetic leaders will win few friends and supporters in their work, which can lead to hostile working environments that lack trust. Another way that a lack of empathy manifests is through failing to take accountability and an unwillingness to admit mistakes.
Tip: Place yourself in the shoes of others, change your perspective, and examine your biases.
When a leader is visibly stagnant, they are typically not developing new ideas, strategies, and plans to benefit the organization. They’re also unlikely to be driving progress and change, with their personal stagnation transmitting over to others, decreasing overall morale among the teams.
Tip: A clear career goal is the root of all solutions when it comes to overcoming stagnation.
Verdict: Leaders Need to Work Harder
Weaknesses come in many forms, like a shortage of hard skills, soft skills, knowledge, confidence, and more, but all of them can be overcome with self-awareness, determination, and the desire to foster a culture of success. Great leaders will need the courage to become their best selves, but by considering these 10 common leadership weaknesses to improve upon, anything is possible!