Does Your Company Have Weak Leadership?
By Joe Issid
As much as modern businesses have changed the way they do business across the world, one thing has remained relatively stable throughout the years: the typical corporate hierarchy. Sure, many companies have moved to a flatter reporting structure, where larger groups of employees are only a few degrees removed from the CEO. And yes, many companies believe in very open communication styles, where the majority of employees are empowered to speak up where they may have been discouraged to do so a few short years ago. But most of us still have a boss who has a boss who has a boss (you get the idea). For the unfortunate, one of those bosses up the ladder may not be pulling his/her weight or has been organizationally misplaced. While you may not be able to see it in a very direct way, there are some tell-tale signs that your company has a leadership issue. Here’s some ways to sniff them out.
Good leaders spend a great deal of their time and effort ensuring that their employees are happy at work. After all, it has been shown that happy workers produce higher quality work and are willing to work longer hours. And, I mean, who wouldn’t want to work with happy people? A weak management structure does not pay close attention to the mood of the staff and it has a direct impact on a company’s bottom line. If you and your co-workers find yourselves dreading coming into work, chances are your corporate leaders are not making a big enough effort to keep you happy.
It is almost never a good sign if an established company is regularly looking to replace departed employees. To wit, high employee turnover can be indicative of a few things, but is very often caused by two primary elements: poor working conditions and a lack of upward mobility. And both of these causes are very frequently caused by poor management. Of course, certain companies simply cannot create opportunities where none exist but no company is incapable of ensuring a safe and happy work environment. If people are regularly quitting their jobs, looking upwards is where you will likely find a solution.
As any small business owner will tell you, it takes a great deal of trust to allow someone else to make decisions that impact your business. As such, when I first launched my small business, I had an extremely difficult time relinquishing any responsibility to others. But, after some time, I discovered that doing it all alone was having a negative impact on the business. Through failure I was able to learn that all good leaders need to be able to delegate authority to those with whom they work. Failure to do so alienates your employees and does not make them feel like valued or trusted colleagues. Also, one person simply cannot do it all alone. Multiple heads are always better than one.
Lack of clarity
Whenever something goes wrong, a strong team will know exactly how to respond. A well-managed staff will have their objectives clearly mapped out and will have a clear understanding of what is expected of them. Strong leaders are excellent communicators and value input from their staff. Keeping frequent and active dialogue with a team ensures that everyone is happy, productive and fully aware of the role that they play. Poor leaders are often reflected in the quality of work that is produced by their teams. If a manager is disorganized an uncommunicative, chances are his/her team is producing subpar work. And, as a manager, I expect to be fully accountable if my team is underperforming.
Unfortunately, I have had the bad luck of working for several people throughout my career who were not able to admit when they were wrong or failed to acknowledge alternative ideas. For many, being stuck working in an environment where ideas are not shared or respected can be extremely frustrating. A poor leader doesn’t consult others before making important decisions and often alienates his/her colleagues. And, unfortunately, these behaviours can become systemic if they are not addressed quickly. Sometimes, all it takes is a single poor leader to negatively impact the culture of an entire company. If you notice these signs permeating your workplace, take a look at your management structure and see what can be done to turn things around.