leaders create problems

I hear a lot of stories in the client events and leadership training programs I conduct. And regularly, employees share how their leaders create problems for themselves that are completely avoidable. Let’s take a look at two common leadership problems and what can be done to avoid them.

Distorted View & Disregarded Facts

I’ll begin with Kathleen, a higher education professional who offered this insight.

“Too often leaders embrace those things they fear. Then when faced with contrary facts, they choose to stick with their initial beliefs and fears, disregarding those facts. Their beliefs are not validated regularly, so the lens through which these leaders look, gets cloudy.”

Then Kathleen finishes with an exceptionally important statement.

“Instead of cleaning the lens periodically to make sure they are seeing clearly, they don’t. And thus have a distorted view from which to proceed.”

You know, Kathleen has identified an issue which should be of great importance to all leaders. Let me rephrase her concern about a “distorted view” by asking,

“Why do you believe what you believe?”

Do you believe it because you’ve researched, gathered, studied and applied the relevant facts surrounding your belief?

Or do you believe what you believe because:

  • That’s what someone told you?
  • Or that’s the way you’ve always done it?
  • Or heck, it’s just easier than checking facts?!

Many leaders create problems for themselves by forgoing a fact check. In those cases, American author and humorist, Arnold Glasow offers this jewel,

“The fewer the facts, the stronger the opinion.”

Here’s a fact of which I’m sure. When you lead based on facts, the opinion others have of you will be secure.

Decisive, Yes! Understanding, Not So Much

Steve, CEO of a technology company, offers our second example in the “leaders create problems for themselves” file. Steve writes,

“Phil, I think one of the biggest problems leaders face is not taking the time to “seek first to understand.”

“Far too often, leaders want to take over a new area of responsibility and make quick, decisive decisions before they really understand the history, experiences and circumstances their employees have been through.

“Engaging employees, spending quality time interviewing employees, seeking to get their input, drawing on their history — all help to create a more accurate picture on which to base decisions.”

Good point, Steve!

I once heard a seasoned manufacturing supervisor advise one of his employees. After giving his formal instruction, he then added. “Hurry, but don’t rush.”

Confusing? I hope not.

Think about it for a moment.

Leaders create problems for themselves when they:

  • Rush to judgment
  • Accelerate leadership actions before gathering facts
  • Discount the environment in which their followers function

When leaders make decisions apart from this understanding, they’re just inviting trouble. And the last thing a leader needs is more trouble — that’s a fact!

Leaders Create Problems for Themselves When…

So what would you say? What problems have you seen leaders create for themselves? I’d love to hear and I bet others would too. Please comment below.