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The Cost of Bad Leadership

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I’ve been a part of some great teams.  What I mean by great is we all worked hard, we weren’t afraid to challenge each other and we were committed to the success of the team.  We also had fun and enjoyed each other’s company.  As these teams were part of for-profit organizations, each were successful as measured by financial performance, operational efficiency and employee engagement.  I strongly believe that these organizations were successful because of the cohesiveness of the leadership team and the trickle-down effect it had throughout the organization.

So let’s talk about the one leadership team that was neither cohesive nor successful…

For better or worse, I learned more from the one dysfunctional leadership team then the four successful leadership teams of which I was a member.  The takeaway I would like to focus on is this:

It starts at the top.

The leader sets the tone for the team.  If the wrong leader is in place, the teams WILL NOT succeed.

The leader, whom I will refer to as the General Manager or GM, was very capable in many ways.  The GM was very smart about technology, processes and business outcomes of the industry.  He had many years of experience and had been a leader of numerous teams.  His resume was impressive.

However, his people leadership skills were lacking.  The foundation of a cohesive team is trust.  I’m not talking about dependability trust, which means you trust Joe in Finance that he will give you your financial reports that are accurate and on time.  I’m talking about vulnerability trust, which means team members can be open and honest with each other for the good of the team.

Unfortunately, the GM created distrust amongst the leadership team.  He did this by only consulting with certain members of the leadership team.  Of the eight members of the leadership team, there were three members with whom he talked to exclusively and behind closed doors.  He would often solicit opinions from these three individuals and not others on the team.  In team meetings, when team members other than “the three” would offer suggestions, the GM would often ignore or shut down these individuals.  As you can imagine, since everyone’s opinions or ideas on the team were not equally valued, there was an absence of trust on the team.

So what is the takeaway?

Leadership matters.  Teams can only be effective if the leader is effective in his or her role.  This means he or she needs to lead out in creating a cohesive team.  Vulnerability trust is at the foundation of a cohesive team.  Team members should be able to share with each other what is going well, what is not going well and any ideas to help the team.  This is how great decisions are made.  To expect anything less is detrimental to the team and the organization.  It starts with the leader of the team.

The cost of bad leadership is high.

The benefits of good leadership are great and the start to a cohesive team.

Mark is the founder of Lōkahi Leadership Solutions, a consulting firm that focuses on leadership development, team cohesiveness and coaching solutions.  Lōkahi is a Hawaiian word that means unity, accord and harmony.  Mark believes that cohesive and collaborative teams achieve more.  He is certified in the following programs:  Everything Disc®, Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team™, the Leadership Challenge®, and The Myers-Briggs™ Assessment Tool.