In Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich,” he outlines the major causes for failure in leadership. As I read
through the list a few times, I had to be introspective of myself and my leadership style. Most leaders
desire to be a good one or at least deceive themselves into believing they are. So here are Napoleon
Hill’s reasons for a breakdown in leadership. Before you attribute them to your superiors, examine
yourself and your communication style to see if there are things you can tweak to become a more
effective leader yourself.
1) Inability to organize details: If you want someone to follow you, you have to have a detailed plan
of action for your subordinates. It is one thing to have a great vision, it is another to communicate it
effectively and in digestible steps that others can easily follow. Even Habakkuk 2:2 instructs leaders to
“write the vision and make it PLAIN so that he that reads it can run with it.” If you fail to organize details,
it’s the small foxes that will inevitably spoil the vine in your endeavor.
2) Unwillingness to render humble service: No one wants to follow a haughty leader. If you’re too
good to serve your followers, they won’t want to serve your cause either. Your subordinates will
become resentful of your leadership style if it consists of a “do as I say, not as I do” mentality.
Leaders do what is necessary to get the job done by leading by example, not by an authoritative
iron fist or high minded approach.
3) Expectation of pay for what they “know” instead of what they do with what they know: It
doesn’t matter if you have read the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica, speak four languages and
know how to code the entire Internet, if you don’t APPLY that knowledge, what good is it to
anyone? Sometimes leaders in positions feel they should be paid more for their education,
meanwhile someone else with less education is their subordinate who is actually applying their
knowledge and getting results. Want to get paid more? Do more.
4) Fear of competition from followers: We all know that leader who boxes out their subordinates
and doesn’t allow them to attend client meetings or doesn’t pass on necessary contacts or
information out of fear that that person will take their job. It’s not necessary. Good leaders
produce good leaders. Consider it a tip of your hat if one of your followers surpasses you. It’s a
sign you are an effective leader!
5) Lack of imagination: Creativity is key in leadership because things always change on the fly. You
have to stay on your toes and imagine new ideas. If you aren’t imaginative and continue to
create stale solutions, people will tire of following your lead.
6) Selfishness: This is a HUGE one! Who wants to follow and serve someone who is all about
themselves? If you are an “all about me” person, your motives will seep through in your
leadership style and people will resent you. If you can’t provide mutually beneficial relationships
and outcomes, people will only follow you grudgingly and out of necessity, not because they like
you or want to be a part of your team.
7) Intemperance: If you lack self-control, moderation and fairness how can you maintain influence
in a leadership capacity? It’s simple. In order to lead, one must be respectful and respected. If
you display excess, greed or partiality you are likely to lose respect.
8) Disloyalty: In order to acquire loyalty from others, you have to show loyalty. If you are loyal only
to yourself or to someone else’s agenda who can assist you in ascending to another level, this
leads back to point #6 – selfishness. If you waver between two agendas, gossip behind people’s
backs or come off as snide, this shows you aren’t fair or stable minded enough to properly lead
9) Emphasis of the “authority” of leadership: Let’s face it, some people get in leadership positions
to flex on others. Whether it is because they’re insecure or seeking some sort of validation,
pulling rank has no place in true authentic leadership. If the only thing you have to stand on to
get people to follow you is your position of authority, you aren’t a true leader. How many times
have we seen a peer be able to influence another before a superior can?
10) Emphasis of title: Just because you have a title bestowed upon you doesn’t mean you are an
effective leader. We see this every day in politics. True leaders don’t need titles. And just as with
point #9, if the only thing you have to stand on to get people to follow you is throwing your title
around, you aren’t a true leader.
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