Why Leaders Fail

Last week I hosted an event with Dr. Clinton Longnecker where we discussed leadership with a group of 50 leaders from various companies in Salt Lake City, UT. One of the fascinating discussions stemmed from the question, Why Do Leaders Fail?

There are probably a myriad of answers as to why leaders fail, but I want to boil it down to three “ins” that need to be out.

1. Incongruency
2. Incompetency
3. Inconsistency

1. Incongruency – when leaders are not congruent they erode their influence and create distrust. We see this when a leader’s action are contrary to their words. When the expectations or standards don’t apply to themselves, or when they don’t live the values they profess. To avoid failure in this area, leaders need to practice what they preach and set an example that people can follow.

2. Incompetency – when leaders haven’t developed the requisite knowledge or skill to get the job done they will not be valued or followed. What further fuels the problem is that many times leaders try to mask their incompetency with arrogance instead of humility. To avoid failure in this area, leaders need to be constantly learning and growing and be humble enough to admit when you don’t know.

3. Inconsistency – when leaders are doing the right things but only some of the time, we can’t count on them. Consistency is the hallmark of great leadership because it becomes reliable and builds a reputation you can’t rely on. To avoid failure in this area, leaders need to make sure they do the basics everyday and realize that leadership is a game of singles and doubles everyday, not the occasional home run.

In your experience – why do leaders fail?


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