Seven Deadly Sins of Leadership

While the self-help section of the library has numerous volumes on leadership and how to do the right thing, sometimes knowing what the wrong things are and how to avoid them can be just as valuable.

Here is a list of the “seven deadly sins of leadership”:

1. Assuming your employees know the company’s objectives and purpose. So you and your management team have a great strategic plan in place. Who will implement that plan? Even the best plan is worthless unless it is understood and embraced at all levels. Your workforce is the engine that powers your plan. You should integrate your strategic workforce planning with your business planning.

2. Approaching selection and hiring in a haphazard manner. Best case scenario – 14 percent of the time you will get a good employee. Worst case scenario — most of the time you will get a less-than-stellar worker and worse, you might get sued. Good hiring practices at all levels improve overall performance and help deter lawsuits. Rigorous interviews and background checks can help employers form an accurate picture of past behavior, but pre-employment screening for a potential employee’s attitudes toward integrity, substance abuse, reliability and work ethic is a better predictor of future behavior.

3. Assuming your people are trained. Failing to develop your people’s talents through appropriate training is a massive waste of resources. Many companies spend more time and money negotiating and paying for maintenance contracts on their equipment than they do training their staff. And yet, they claim their employees are their number one asset.

4. Failing to evaluate and measure. It is easy to fall into the habit of “business as usual;” performing tasks by rote or doing things the same way simply because that is the way they have always been done. You should continually assess your business’ activities. Are they necessary and relevant? If so, then these activities should be tracked to assess effectiveness as well as efficiency. If you can’t measure it — don’t do it.

5. Failing to provide appropriate feedback. Fear of conflict can cause leaders to avoid mentioning unacceptable behavior or requiring accountability. Whether through performance reviews or conversations during the course of daily activities, meaningful, constructive feedback is necessary to produce good performance and to help employees’ career development. In a recent study conducted by, of 2,000 employees and 330 HR professionals, two-thirds of companies believe their performance reviews are effective, but only 39 percent of employees agree.

6. Assuming you are doing a good job and your customers are happy. Have you asked? Assuming your customers are satisfied simply because you have not received complaints is not necessarily an accurate barometer. Your business should have mechanisms in place to encourage customer feedback. You should listen to, and act on that feedback.

7. Not marketing (failure to understand the relationship between marketing and sales). Even businesses with an excellent sales force should actively market themselves. Marketing and its disciplines of Public Relations, Research and Advertising are critical strategies to identify new markets; communicate to prospects and clients and to establish your brand and message among all of your constituents. Failure to actively pursue these strategies handicaps your business’ ability to compete. As if seven deadly leadership sins were not enough, we will leave you with a bonus.

Developing Leaders – Fast Track and Feedback

In a typical Fortune 500 company, most leaders spend an average of four years in a given position. That means that annually, at least one-fourth of the managers will change jobs. Successful leaders in mid-level positions move even more often — every two to three years. Given these averages, companies must continually develop new, effective leaders to remain competitive. Superior companies attract and inspire talented people. To keep them, they must engage them and hone their leadership proficiency. Effective leaders strive to continually improve themselves — not just their skills. They use both formal and informal support networks to get honest feedback about their performance. Listening is critical.

So how important is feedback? It is critically important at all levels:

  • Leaders do not work in a vacuum. No leader has all of the answers all the time. Getting high-level input and access to great minds is helpful to any executive.
  • Often, large organizations operate as a silo community isolating leaders in their roles. Helping leaders learn from each other helps build the much-needed peer support and relationships.
  • Equally important, establishing two-way communication with staff is essential to leadership performance. Leaders must be able to express their objectives and listen to their staff’s feedback to build productive teams and produce results.

In addition to soliciting appropriate feedback, up and coming leaders should be encouraged to put their values into action.

Values in Action Good leaders are as driven by their values and principles as they are by recognition and rewards. Know what motivates your leaders. Give them opportunities to make their mark on the company. Often a leader’s corporate vision is fed by his or her personal values. A person who holds kindness and respect as personal values is more likely to create a corporate vision that exemplifies respect for clients and associates.

Leadership integrity drives long-term results. You may be able to achieve short-term results by fear, threats or coercion – but sustained organizational results can only be accomplished through integrity and consistency. Establishing leadership training and mentoring programs provides your new leader with tools that will help them grow professionally and personally. Not only will your company benefit from better management; they are more likely to stay with you and make a difference over time.

Self-knowledge Provides the Opportunity for Leadership Development. It is estimated that in most organizations, 15 to 20 percent of employees are considered top performers. At any given time, 80 to 85 percent of an organization’s employees are not fully engaged and motivated. Many have the skills, experience, and education to suggest they should be top performers, but the engagement simply is not there. Often, the disconnect is in management and leadership ability. When you think about it, you need your employees more than they need you. Your success relies on your employees working effectively under your management. The more you are aware of their issues, the better you can address them.

Listening and responding is a core leadership skill. Sometimes leaders talk too much and fail to listen. To get feedback, you must ask for it, be open to it and respond effectively. Profiles CheckPoint 360′ Feedback SystemTM provides leaders with feedback from those who observe their performance: their direct supervisor, employees, and peers. A powerful professional management development tool, the CheckPoint 360’TM provides the basis for planning and executing a program for professional growth. The CheckPoint 360′ Feedback System provides different perspectives on leadership characteristics. It gives leaders more specific, job-related information about their performance. With the self-knowledge drawn from this instrument comes the opportunity for:

  • Performance improvement
  • Identification of training needs
  • Improved skills – leadership, goal setting, interpersonal and organizational
  • Increased leadership accountability

Using this type of feedback, you now have an opportunity to clarify issues and misunderstandings and make positive changes. It gives you the feedback you need to manage effectively. The Checkpoint 360′ positively impacts your individual growth and the organization’s success.

katapultSeven Deadly Sins of Leadership