Organizations tend to take on the very likenesses of their leadership team.  Find a firm that is resolute and steadfast in their pursuit of perfection and you'll find leaders that are unyielding and firm in their insistence on excellence in all that is done.  Similarly, a company that is sloppy and inconsistent in their service delivery and you will find leaders that accept sub-par performance.

Why do some leadership teams operate this way?  It's a phenomenon that I see quite often in my work as a leadership coach and management consultant.  When hired to help fix a leadership problem, inevitably we find that leaders choose to justify their lazy or haphazard leadership practices with a wide-variety of excuses.

Here are 10 of my all-time favorite leadership cop-outs:

  1. I don't need to understand the details; I expect them to know their stuff. You want leaders that are sincerely interested at the work at hand and can inspire their team to be routinely raising the bar.
  2. Who needs a vision?  My vision is to make money. You want leaders who understand the need for, and are comfortable articulating, a vivid and compelling vision story - one that gives people something to aspire to.
  3. I paid my dues.  I don't need to spend time dealing with irate customers. You want leaders that put the customer first and have the poise and confidence to be effective in all circumstances.
  4. I'm all for taking short-cuts, if the situation warrants it.  You want leaders of high integrity and model the kinds of behaviors that you expect from your team.
  5. The work is boring.  I'm not going to motivate people here.  You want leaders that people want to work for and with.
  6. My people know what they're doing.  Why should I get involved?  You want leaders that are always pushing their people to be better.
  7. My staff knows what I expect.  You want leaders that can communicate effectively, so that there is no doubt about what is important.
  8. I expect my team to reach-out to me if they need something.  You want leaders that are involved and connected to the people that they lead.
  9. They don't need me to give them compliments.  We already have the best comp package in the industry.  You want leaders that recognize talent and reward people based on results, and, not on effort or out of favoritism. 
  10.  I don't have the time to bring everyone up-to-speed.   You want leaders that can teach people how to be the best that they can be.

To close, these 10 cop-outs are heard from leaders all the time.  If you ever find yourself using any of them, please take a moment and re-calibrate your thinking.  It's precisely at the moment that you find yourself making an excuse that your people likely need your leadership the most.

If you need some help getting the "right" leadership culture in place, please reach out to me.  We have some tried and true approaches that will get your organization right back on track.