Have You Become an Ineffective Leader?

Not everyone is capable of being a leader. Not every leader is able to be a great leader. But it is possible for any leader, even great ones, to become ineffective. As a leader, it is your responsibility to constantly review your actions and those of leaders who work for you for indications of ineffectiveness.

Unless you got to your current position by being related to the person who selected you chances are someone thought you had what it takes to lead your organization effectively. If this is the case, one would assume they also believed you would be an effective leader, otherwise, what is the point? However, if you find that things are not progressing as you planned it may not be anyone’s fault but your own. You may have become ineffective.

What is an ineffective leader? By its simplest definition, this is a leader who is not producing any significant or desired effect. In the real world, it usually takes the form of the boss everyone hates because he/she has caused the agency to either stagnate or even move backward. In some cases, this shows right from the beginning, but in most, it develops over time. In all cases there are only two options – change your style or step down.

So how do you know you have become ineffective? Identify an ineffective leader is easy for everyone except the leader. Other around you will see it long before you, but once you realize what has happened, it is still possible to change. To see whether you might be on the path to ineffectiveness look for the following traits – there are many more, but in my experience, these are the most common.

1. You start to believe your own PR – it’s nice to hear or read flattering reports about how you are doing, but state believing them too much and you are doomed. First, almost every press release is written by someone who has a vested interest in making you or the agency look good – like the press secretary. Second, those who choose to print the press releases usually also have an agenda. Instead of focusing on the press releases read the public comments that follow them- this will give you an idea of what the public, who you really serve, thinks of the job you are doing.

2. You surround yourself with subordinates who are not up to the task – true leaders will attempt to hire or promote the best, most intelligent people available. If you find that you are surrounded by people who are not up to the task, and thus always relying on you, warning bells should start to sound.

3. Your way has become the only way – Yes, the boss usually has the final say and sometimes your decision will fly in the face of what everyone else is recommending. However, if you find that you believe your ideas or solutions are the only viable one available something is wrong. Part of this could be the people advising you (see #2) and part of it could be your ego does not allow you to accept anyone else may be more informed than you are. Both are dangerous.

4. You are never to blame- the old saying “the buck stops here” is rooted in truth, as the boss you are ultimately responsible for everything that happens in your department. While somethings may be out of your control or truly someone else’s fault, you will take at least some of the blame. When you start making excuses for why it is not your fault or openly blame those who work for you, stop and rethink your priorities- bosses do not play CYA at the expense of the agency.

5. Your management style includes a microscope – micromanagement is the death of any agency and when a boss tries to do this they, not only lost the confidence of subordinates they lose focus on the bigger picture. If you have hired qualified people, put them in the right positions and provided them with the tools they need you should not need to manage every little detail.

The only thing worse than having no leader is having an ineffective one, at least when the position is vacant someone can step in and take charge when needed. By identifying if you are becoming ineffective, you can then take steps to change your leadership style, bring in people to help shore up your weak points or even decide it is time to step aside. Remember, the leader’s first responsibility is to the agency and those it serves – not themselves.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
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