Are you setting up new leaders to fail?

There is nothing worse than watching a promising leader fail to develop because there are too many barriers put in their way. Whilst a few are to be expected, you do need to be careful when placing them in a position where they encounter more than they can cope with. No matter how skilled or enthusiastic they might be, these barriers can wear them down and even the most talented or dedicated leader can fail to thrive.

In an organisational sense, the nine most common barriers that prevent your leaders from reaching their potential are:


1. Unclear or constantly changing goals A leader can’t perform when they regularly have their targets changed, are constantly required to refocus their priorities or don’t receive clear directives on where the organisation is heading.

2. Policies or procedures that slow them down These could be imposed by the local senior leader or from head office and include excessive sign offs for purchases, complicated decision making processes or restrictive quoting requirements.

3. Senior leaders who micro manage  The need by senior leaders to get involved in unnecessary aspects of project execution creates leaders who avoid making mistakes. 

4. Lack of resources to perform their role It could be physical resources, information or people that are denied the leader who is still expected to meet targets.

5. Inheriting under performers and non performers Turning around a struggling team is one thing, but asking a leader to cope with a team full of people no one else wanted is a barrier that only the most skilled person can overcome.

6. The legacy of past leader’s decisions Whilst every leader and leadership team can be guilty of making bad decisions, making them a legacy for future leaders to deal with is a real barrier to achievement.

7. Resistance by existing leaders It could be that the new leader is being groomed in a different style to the existing leaders, whether they are more senior or at their level. The organisation might be going through a cultural change program that is supported by senior leaders and welcomed by team members but meets resistance from mid level leaders who want to see the status quo maintained and feel threatened by a new style leader. 

8. Issues leading their former colleagues Moving from one of the team to the team leader can be a difficult transition for some people. It requires careful handling in advance to ensure that everyone involved understands the potential issues. Otherwise you can end up with both the team members and the team leader unclear on their roles and expectations of the other parties.

9. Various forms of discrimination Whether you call it discrimination, favouritism or nepotism, this barrier is not about their performance but often an issue of personal style. The discrimination can be against them or in favour of them. Either way it is a barrier that needs to be dealt with for their career to thrive.

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