There’s a type of leadership failure which can really damage an organization over time. It is neglect.

It’s the person in a major leadership role who looks to avoid decisions and not address real needs. They maintain problems instead of dealing with them. They postpone action when they could take it and obtain improved outcomes.

They get through the day but they fail to focus on the important opportunities and challenges of the future. They are reactive not pro-active. They prefer to not decide or act unless they are forced to do so and then not always.

They can be quite skilled at engaging in activity which portrays action but it’s purely process without reaching results. For example, they love meetings, committees, and anything which enables them to say they are working on it.

Gerunds never verbs are their lexicon. They also like pointing to factors which they claim represent insurmountable barriers to real solutions.

If years go by, this type of pseudo-leadership can put an organization way behind the times and in deficit on key metrics. It is a formula for failure in the ever changing world of the 21st century.

Either they lack the leadership ability or they believe they are protecting their position by dodging decisions.

Ultimately, they are putting themselves before the mission, team, or customers. They would rather try to hold on to a position than lead and we need leaders now more than ever.


From the Teacher: Leadership Lessons with Dr. Saviak is a weekly column with the esteemed Joseph C. Saviak, Ph.D., J.D., M.A., M.S., Management Consulting & Leadership Training.

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