What is the price of poor leadership?

What is the price of poor leadership?

The more appropriate question might be: “What exactly is lost as a result of poor leadership?” Regardless of the type of organization you work for, be it a private business or a government entity, there are always skeptics who question the value of leadership. Does it really contribute in a positive way to organizational outputs? Don’t organizations exist just fine with or without quality leadership from within?

For those that have studied and written about leadership, and who have come to grasp the importance of having effective leaders within our organizations, these seem to be almost incomprehensible questions. Of course effective leadership is important, and of course the absence of effective leadership will surely have long-term implications. Our entire focus as leadership advocates is to tout the benefits of quality leadership and provide others with the leadership tools they need to succeed in their chosen endeavors. It seems strange that in today’s day and age, with the almost unlimited examples of the value that quality leadership brings to an organization, that some people still question its need.

Whether you work in the private sector or, like many of us, in law enforcement, you have no doubt had the opportunity to see ineffective leadership at work (or
not at work, depending on how you look at). The fact that the leadership industry is thriving, and the fact that it is one of the most requested training topics in just about any field of work, is a strong indication of just how much ineffective leadership is out there. More and more organizations, and the people who run them, are recognizing the value of leadership and are seeking to bring effective leadership into their businesses. We know that organizations exist to combine the efforts of many people towards a purposeful outcome or output, so there must be some sense that leadership can play a role in improving organizational outcomes. But what do we lose from the lack of leadership? Can that be measured also?

The answer lies with the very skeptics who honestly question whether organizations can survive just fine with or without effective leadership. Typically, skeptics don’t just pop out of thin air. They have been conditionally influenced through the results of poor and ineffective leadership to conclude that leadership itself is really not all that worthy of a goal, and because they have survived so long without it, they cease to see its value. In basic academic terms, the skeptics have been managed, but they haven’t been led. Dr. Jack Enter concludes that, “most managers are not good leaders, and their management failures have created a justifiable cynicism about attempts to practice good leadership.” We often look at the leadership skeptics as the malcontents, or the cancers within our organizations that need to be removed. But don’t forget, we didn’t hire them as malcontents. We created them.

Perhaps now we are getting closer to the true cost of poor leadership. Consider for a moment the role of a leader within an organization, especially the type of organization that has experienced poor or ineffective leadership. Poor or ineffective leadership builds skeptics and, in order for its impact to be effectively nullified, it consumes effective leadership resources that could otherwise be applied towards the development of the organization and those within it.