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We’ve witnessed the public downfall of leaders from almost every area of endeavour—business, politics, religion, and sports. One day they’re on top of the heap, the next, the heap’s on top of them.

Of course, no one wants to imagine that such catastrophic failures could never happen to them. After all the hard work invested in achieving positions of leadership – nobody wants to give them up! Unfortunately, the distance between being a beloved leader and despised failure is shorter than we think.

Ken Maupin, a practicing psychotherapist in the US has identified the following “warning signs” of impending leadership failure, test yourself to see if you identify with any of these qualities.

1. A shift in focus
Often, leaders simply lose sight of what’s important. The dedicated focus that enabled them to reach the top disappears, and they become distracted by the trappings of leadership, such as wealth and notoriety.

Test:
What is your primary focus right now? If you can’t write it on the back of your business card, then it’s a sure bet that your leadership is suffering from a lack of clarity. Take the time necessary to get your focus back on what’s important.

2. Poor Communication
A lack of focus and its resulting disorientation typically lead to poor communication. Followers can’t possibly understand a leader’s intent when the leader him- or herself isn’t sure what it is! And when leaders are unclear about their own purpose, they often hide their confusion and uncertainty in ambiguous communication.

Test:
“Say what you mean, and mean what you say” is timeless advice, but it must be preceded by knowing what you mean! An underlying clarity of purpose is the starting point for all effective communication. So if you have a clear idea of your intent for a specific project or for your company on whole, you’re half way to communicating effectively.

3. Risk Aversion
When driven by the fear of failure, leaders are unable to take reasonable risks. They want to do only the tried and proven; attempts at innovation—typically a key to their initial success—diminish and eventually disappear.

Test:
Which is more important to you: the attempt or the outcome? Are you still taking reasonable risks? Prudent leadership never takes reckless chances that risk the destruction of what has been achieved, but neither is it paralyzed by fear. Often the dance of leadership is two steps forward, one step back.

4. Ethic Slip
The highest principle of leadership is integrity. When integrity ceases to be a leader’s top priority, when a compromise of ethics is rationalized away as necessary for the “greater good,” when achieving results becomes more important than the means to their achievement—that is the moment when a leader steps onto the slippery slop of failure.

Test:
It is imperative to your leadership that you constantly subject your life and work to the highest scrutiny. Are there areas of conflict between what you believe and how you behave? Has compromise crept into your operational tool kit? One way to find out is to ask the people you depend on if they ever feel used or taken for granted.

If you find yourself identifying with any of these qualities don’t panic! By paying attention to these signs and heeding their warnings, you can avoid disaster and sustain the kind of leadership that is healthy and fulfilling for both yourself and your business.

If you’re looking to revitalise your leadership and management style why not invest in a BSB42015 Certificate IV in Leadership and Management? At Trainwest, WA’s leading RTO, our management training courses are tried and tested to equip you and your employees with the skills and knowledge that you need to boost productivity and moral.

Our next BSB42015 Certificate IV in Leadership and Management starts on the 31st of August, so enrol now to secure your place!