Think back on all of the different leaders that you’ve had in your life and focus on the one that was most successful. What behaviors did they exhibit and what actions did they take that made them successful? Now think of the leader that was least successful and what behaviors they exhibited that made them that way. How were they different from the first leader? Finally, think about whether or not the unsuccessful leader was aware that the behaviors they were exhibiting were contributing to their lack of success. It’s likely that at some point in every person’s life they will have an unsuccessful leader and will comment on how oblivious the leader is to how their behaviors are affecting their results. This is why it is crucial for leaders to be aware of their behaviors and how greatly they can impact their followers and goals.
To start, it’s important to understand that there are two different types of behaviors: task behaviors and relationship behaviors (PSU WC, 2019, L. 5). The first of these, task behaviors, is fairly self-explanatory in that its focus is on the achievement of goals (PSU WC, 2019, L. 5). The second type of behavior is relationship-focused and considers how follower feel about the leader and the situation (PSU WC, 2019, L. 5). While there has been some debate, it is widely accepted that these two types of behaviors are on their own separate scales meaning that someone could be high in both task and relationship behaviors, low in both, or possess one that is high while the other is low (PSU WC, 2019, L. 5). Being able to identify as a leader, where you are at on each of these scales is important when trying to be successful, however, I think that being aware of potentially detrimental behaviors can be even more so.
According to research (Hughes, Grant, & Curphy, 2012, as cited in PSU WC, 2019, L.5), there are five groups of behaviors that leaders could possess that have the potential for causing them to fail. First is the inability to build relationships and can be best equated to the behavior that is typically seen in militaries. Next is the failure to meet business expectations but is mainly about how well leaders are able to achieve their goals despite any difficulties they may encounter. There is also the inability to lead and build a team which specifically calls out their poor leadership skills. The inability to adapt is also very important, especially in this day and age where technology is moving at such a rapid pace. Finally, inadequate preparation for promotions can cause leaders to be unsuccessful due to inexperience.
The failure to meet their business goals is a pretty obvious behavior for a leader to notice about themselves, however, some of the other ones are not as obvious. For instance, the inability to adapt, lead a team, or build relationships are all things that could easily be overlooked by a leader leaving them wondering why they are not successful. That it why it is absolutely crucial for leaders to actively participate in self-reflection and regularly have open discussions with their followers to find out how they can improve. The last thing that a leader wants to be is unsuccessful and viewed as clueless by their followers.
Hughes, R. L., Ginnett, R. C., & Curphy, G. J. (2012). Leadership: Enhancing the lessons of experience. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Companies.
Pennsylvania State University World Campus (2019). PSYCH 485 Lesson 5: Style and Situational Approaches. Retrieved from https://courses.worldcampus.psu.edu/canvas/su19/2195min-5376/content/05_lesson/printlesson.html