The domino effect of substandard leadership

High-quality leadership is like the light, permeating into every aspect of the business, nation or institution; and poor leadership is like the shadow, darkening many areas of the organization (nation or institution). Leadership debate is never ending. The leadership impact for the business, nation or institution is just like the light on the road when you drive in the dark. What is the cause and effect of poor leadership? What is the biggest negative or most serious impact on employees when leadership is poor?

Poor leadership is “misleading” or lack of vision: Without a direction, employees are aimless. They do not know what the goals are for the company and they do not know why they are working with specific processes. They will accomplish only mechanically, not with any intelligent direction towards a common goal. Employee productivity gets the biggest hit as they are directed less in an ambiguous work environment. Poor leadership also leads to frustration in employees as decision making is either crippled or biased, thus leading to employee dissatisfaction and attrition in few cases.

Poor leadership causes huge gaps between strategy and execution: Most of the managers with poor leadership skills cause a huge gap in the strategy making, the process of the work; the communications between departments, and the capabilities to execute strategy. Poor leadership can cause the cognitive gaps because they only “like” folks who both look and think like themselves, such homogeneous team setting causes cognitive gaps in strategy making and capability gaps in strategy execution. And micro-management causes employees to feel stressful and lack of trust. Further, when employees think that they would be heard when they go to leaders, whether on an issue, or idea or anything else, the ‘poor’ leaders do either of the following things; they over promise and under deliver, or just keep postponing decisions, or worse, they just thrust their own agendas on them. Hence, there are both communication gaps and execution gaps caused by poor leadership.

Also, poor leadership is the root cause of the culture of mediocrity: Poor leadership effects on the improvement of the employees within the group, where the employee will remain with same performance till an action is taken by the management to solve the leadership issues. The employee is left wondering whether the growth of employees is at all in the list of those leaders. And they start to emulate their style of managing people and business decisions. This goes on and flows down the chain of command, eventually becoming a culture in the organization, breeding contempt and mediocrity; where costs are high, quality is low and customer complaints are high. It will also cause turnover for the talent/good employees, where such employees will give up very soon and leave for another environment where they can find the improvements which they are looking for, and on another hand, you will have a big satisfaction by the undesired employees in the company with the result of lack of performance, or long-term capacity. Even business scrapes through on the back of a few good people who still believe that things will change by changing processes and procedures, introducing new and innovative products, robust marketing and so on. But for how long? Mediocrity eventually shows its colours in everything an organization, institution, a nation… does, even the bottom-line.

As well, poor leadership impacts every area of business: Leadership is such a high impact element of a business, nation or institution and if it’s poor, it can lead to retention issues, decreased engagement, scaling issues, low employee performance, and morale. It is one of those things that no matter where poor leadership is coming from (from a front line manager to a top executive member), it will have its repercussions. The impact on employees when leadership is poor includes:

1). Confusion, misunderstanding

2). Unable to bond to a common organizational goal / cause

3). Low morality and culture of mediocrity

4). Misalignment of “do what you say, say what you mean, mean what you do”

5). Erosion of integrity, professional values, work ethics etc

6). Communication from the “leadership” is disregarded, ignored, viewed skeptically.

7). Unpredictable business performance

8). Low employee engagement / employee dissatisfaction

Poor leadership impacts every area of business; nothing is exempt. More often, businesses always focus on the impact to employees and ask what areas are the most serious. Good leadership is like the light, permeating into every aspect of the business; and poor leadership is like the shadow, darkening many areas of the organization. Leadership is the key leading ingredient of corporate culture, which is the collective mindset, behaviors and brand of business.

Over the years, I have come to understand that it is not the abundance of natural resources that makes a nation great, but a strong presence of high quality leaders. Every country on this continent is blessed with natural resources, but they are equally bedeviled with substandard leadership. To be more homely, Nigeria is struggling economically today because of the issue I am raising this day. Nigeria can never move from where she is to the first world without first-rate leaders. The pioneers and founding fathers of Nigeria were not perfect, but they were men of vision, character and knowledge. For Nigeria to move forward, she needs a crop of leaders as Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe.

Lastly, on this continent and especially in Nigeria, we need to begin to take the issue of leadership very seriously. Without high quality leaders, we shall remain as this for a very long time. No nations rise higher than the quality of their leaders. Nigeria can never become better than the total quality of those who are leading her. Remember, poor leaders will always lead nations to poverty.

See you where great leaders are found!