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The Seven Biggest Problems With Leadership Today

For every Richard Branson or Elon Musk, there are hundreds of ineffective CEOs. A great leader runs more than a successful business, they are charismatic examples of their company’s culture and vision. Our team of CEO coaches at CEO Coaching International recently weighed in on the top 25 mistakes CEOs make and how to fix them. In this blog post I narrow down the top 7 reasons that educated and talented leaders fail. In my work with the world’s top CEOs, I encounter a variety of challenges. Here are seven of the biggest problems with leadership today:

1. Failure to Communicate The complexity of today’s business world requires CEOs to be able to communicate on multiple levels. For example, you have to create the vision and persuade your team to make it their vision too. You have to connect on an individual level and inspire people to move from “I” to “we.” And you have to build trust by ensuring your verbal communication and your non-verbal actions reinforce each other. Effective communication is so hard because it takes commitment. You have to make effective communication a priority and that takes discipline, consistency, clarity of message, and a willingness to keep at it day after day. By putting a structured communication system in place that connects at the right level with all of your stakeholders, you can dramatically improve your effectiveness as a leader and drive faster top and bottom line growth.

2. Lack of Accountability If you notice that the big things are not getting done and good ideas fall through the cracks, you lack accountability. We all need scoreboards that track the results we want. Most CEOs know this, but putting this system into place requires self-discipline and focus. Build the systems you need to support accountability and don’t get distracted until they are a part of your operations.

3. Fear of Firing Even the best leaders worry about firing a member of their team if the team has become a close-knit family. When was the last time you fired someone who has been with you so long you know their family? Unfortunately, we often find that the people who got you here will not get you there because the company has outgrown the person’s ability to keep up. As the company grows, so must your team members and as a leader, you have to make the tough decisions to continually upgrade your talent. People want to work for winning organizations and keeping a team member around who’s not pulling their weight just drags everybody else down with them.

4. Lack of Alignment Imagine being a fish trying to swim upstream. It’s tough to make progress. That’s what happens when your key players are not all on the same page. Sure, you’ll have disagreements but as the leader, you have to make sure that when the decision is made, your team is behind it and they move forward in unity to make it happen. And simple things like making sure your compensation systems are lined up to reward the desired behavior are critical. Once you align your team’s incentives to those of the company, magic starts to happen.

5. Lack of Clear Vision What is your company’s vision? If I walk into your building and ask three people, can they articulate your vision? Can they describe what the vision means to them and how the work they do supports the vision and brings meaning to their work? And your vision can’t just be a fluff statement that sounds like a bunch of corporate speak. Real leaders create a compelling vision for the future that ignites a fire under their team and keeps them working hard and doing the right thing even when nobody’s looking. Millennials, in particular, want to believe that the work they do goes beyond just a paycheck and contributes to the greater good. Does your vision inspire this greatness?

6. Poor Execution There are three reasons leaders fail to execute. First, they don’t follow their own plan with discipline. Second, they fail to keep score on what matters. Third, they don’t have the right people in the right jobs to make it happen. If you can assemble these three puzzle pieces, you can put your company on track to win.

7. A Company Culture by Default We all envy Google, Facebook, and Zappos for their dazzling company cultures. But what we forget is that the creator of culture is the CEO, not HR or anyone else. Did you create your culture by design or did it just happen by default? When you consciously think about and design your culture to foster your desired behavior, your culture becomes a competitive advantage that attracts top talent and drives massive results.



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