Highly effective and impactful leaders do not succeed just because they are in the right place at the right time, or simply because of good luck or fortune.  They succeed because they play to their strengths, and they work hard at maximising them.  Effective leaders are very conscious of their strengths and know how to deploy them for their own advantage and for the benefit of their Organisation.

For example: Richard Branson likes to challenge the status quo of traditional businesses, Greg Dyke  believed in the creativity and integrity of his people when at the BBC and Jack Welch waged a ‘war’ on GE’s old ways of doing things.

However, all leaders also have weaknesses which can if they are not careful can inhibit their success or in extreme cases they can be their downfall.  There are a number of factors that can derail a leader and can interfere with their ability to gain the engagement and commitment from their people.  For example, these factors can include:

  • A lack of self-awareness and a lack of appreciation the impact they have (or their actions have) on other people.
  • Seeing the ‘big picture’ but failing to follow through on the details.
  • Over controlling situations and people in the belief that they can always do job better than others.
  • Not giving enough time for their people.
  • Failing to listen or communicate enough.
  • Not providing enough support to their people at difficult times.
  • Failing to challenge their to deliver in their job role and to improve their performance.
  • Not monitoring performance well enough to provide the appropriate feedback or training and development
  • Not acting with sensitivity or discretion.
  • Being rude, aggressive or over critical with their people.
  • Continually ‘pushing’ people unreasonably.

It is helpful for leaders to recognise these factors and work to minimise the impact of them.  An alternative strategy is to engage someone to work along side them who can balance their ‘weaknesses’.  For example, a charismatic Chief Executive may be an excellent visionary but may need a solid Operations or Finance Director to keep control of the detailed operational activities and finances.

Ultimately it is up to the leader to recognise and manage their weaknesses effectively – if they don’t then the impact of these ‘flaws’ may increase and eventually derail them.