Friday, April 22, 2016

Leadership and the 10 Fatal Flaws

Poor leadership when business is good can be hidden, but poor leadership in bad times is a recipe for
disaster. No matter how qualified an individual is to hold a position, or how prominent that position may be, they are still human like everyone else and have flaws.

Zenger and Folkman, in their book The Extraordinary Leader, observed that people challenged to improve their leadership effectiveness found that focusing on weaknesses is often the best approach to improvement. Weaknesses have a dramatic negative impact on perceptions of overall leadership effectiveness. These “Fatal Flaws” create a “Negative Halo effect” and absolutely, positively, must be fixed. There are 10, and here they are:

  • Not Inspiring Due To A Lack Of Energy And Enthusiasm
    • Energy levels stay low
    • Unenthusiastic and passive
    • Perceive additional assignments or initiatives as burdensome
    • Rarely volunteer or make suggestions for change
  • Accepting Mediocre Performance
    • Set minimal expectations
    • Believe mediocre performance is acceptable
    • Never look for opportunities to improve
  • Lack Of Clear Vision And Direction
    • Believe their job is merely to execute the objectives of the organization
    • Expect others to deal with strategy, vision, and direction
    • Fail to understand that subordinates want to know why something is required and how their work contributes to the success of the organization
    • Unwilling to take the time to communicate
  • Loss Of Trust
    • Make poor decisions
    • Promises are made and not kept
    • Decisions are made for personal gain and glory, not for the organization’s welfare
  • Not A Collaborative, Team Player
    • Difficulty in cooperating with other leaders
    • View work as competition and other leaders as opponents
    • Fail to develop positive relationships with peers
    • Fail to share information and resources
  • Not A Good Role Model (Failure To Walk The Talk)
    • Oppose the values and culture of the organization
    • Says one thing and does another
    • Fails to recognize the contributions and hard work of others
  • No Self-Development And Learning From Mistakes
    • Do not use failure as a learning experience
    • Continue to make the same mistakes
  • Lacking Interpersonal Skills
    • Are interpersonally inept
    • Lack social skills
    • Can be abrasive, insensitive, and arrogant
    • Have a lack of respect for peers and subordinates
  • Resistant To New Ideas
    • Rejects suggestions from peers and subordinates
    • Insist on doing things the same old way
    • Closed to new thinking
    • Create a climate of stagnation
    • Pretend to listen and do nothing
  • Focus Is On Self, Not The Development Of Others
    • Highly self-centered
    • Perceive he development of subordinates as optional
Zenger and Folkman found that while looking at a dataset of 11,129 leaders assessed on 16 differentiating competencies, 30% of the leaders had one or more fatal flaws. Leaders with one potential fatal flaw scored at the 37th percentile, those with two at the 27th, and those with three at the 22nd percentile in terms of overall leadership effectiveness. Weaknesses have a dramatic negative impact on perceptions of leadership effectiveness. Working on correcting these “fatal flaws” can have a dramatic improvement on an individual’s ability to lead!

Let the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center Help
Ongoing training and development are critical to the lasting success of business leaders. Training should be a process, not a one-time event. Learn how to tackle employee and leadership relationship issues effectively. If your business needs assistance with supervisory development, MMTC offers a Supervisory Skills course. To search upcoming MMTC Supervisory Training Courses, visit or call 888.414.6682.

About MMTC
Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at

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