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What are the 7 factors that differentiate a good leader from an ineffective one?

Posted on Dec 23, 2016

We often hear and read about all the things we can do to be a great leader, but it is very rare that we find out the factors that lead us to being a poor leader.

A recent article published on CNN’s Thinking Business website sparked my attention: 7 habits of highly INeffective people. The article identified seven factors that make the difference between being a good leader and an ineffective leader.

These were:

  1. Failing to coach and develop others
  2. Being a bad role model
  3. Lack of strategic perspective
  4. Preference for working independently instead of collaborating
  5. Resisting goals and improvement
  6. Poor communication
  7. Failing to inspire and motivate others.

What is interesting about this list is that each of these factors is not easy to identify within ourselves, and it is not often that we are told of these bad habits by those who work around us. In a position of leadership, it is very rare that our employees or our peers will directly says to us that we are self-centered, untrustworthy, have no long-term vision and we are not a team player. Perhaps it is not until we become aware of, or we are annoyed by, these traits in other leaders that we begin to question ourselves and our own leadership style. As Zenger and Folkman state, leaders are often oblivious to their own bad habits.

If, as a leader, you are seeing unmotivated and unproductive employees, increased sick leave and high staff turnover, then perhaps instead of questioning your staff about their actions, it may be wiser to look internally to find the cause. A leader who only focuses on their own goals, does not feel the need to develop themselves further, and does not utilise their team to work towards strategic objectives, limits themselves, not just those around them, and their own opportunity to grow and become a legendary leader.

I have been exploring the notion of authentic leadership as an ideal and preferred leadership style – and a style I aspire to. The traits of an authentic leader (they have vision, are honest, open and consistent) also seem to resonate with the changes that are happening in the workplace due to shifts in generational demographics, technological developments and the increasing need for leaders to be adaptable, transparent and to “lead”, instead of “manage”.

The Holden Leadership Center at the University of Oregon outlines the 10 Things Authentic Leaders Do. This is a good place to start if you think you’re harboring any of the 7 habits of highly INeffective people. Or you could just ask yourself – are you really a good leader?

Michelle Chu MBA, was the executive assistant to the director at the Centre for Workplace Leadership