Trust is the foundation of leadership and once it is lost, it is very difficult to regain. Many times, team leaders wonder why performance in their team has taken a downturn, some may realize where they may have gotten it all wrong while some continually find it a herculean task figuring out. Loss of favour with team have ruined campaigns, halted projects and strained useful relationships. One of the worst things therefore that can happen to leaders is to lose the favour or goodwill of the people they are trying to lead, they can never achieve any goal in such instance. It thus mean that being in the bad book of a team strips the leader of his leadership, this is because his primary task is to mobilize and coordinate people to achieve a common goal and being out of favour would never make him achieve that since the people would never agree to cooperate. It is necessary to know some of the things that put most leaders in this unfortunate position and how to avoid them.
i. Haphazard mode of work: There are times when the leader may be overwhelmed with workload and activities. This situation often makes leaders work in a sloppy, disorganized manner. He forgets the essential principles of leadership he is meant to work by in the process and begins to err. The leader is then perceived to be apathetic towards work, team members as a result begin to lose motivation and exhibit similar traits; in the long run, they lose faith in the leader. To avoid this, leaders should exhibit confidence in the capability of their team by delegating tasks, this is also a morale booster for team members. Leaders should also slow down, have adequate rest and avoid stress.
ii. Virtual leadership: Team members expect that their leader would roll up his sleeves, get his hands dirty and hit the ground running first. Leadership by example is a popular, old and basic principle on how to lead. Emails and the like are often misconstrued; some members may get confused and respond in a corresponding manner, it is distant and gives the supposed leader an image of an impersonal ‘big boss’ who is chewing gum and sitting on a rocking chair issuing commands. When team members can see you, connect with you, understand you by asking questions and read your body language, you appear as a leader who knows in onions and that increases their confidence in you. When leaders cannot have a real conversation with their team, they lose stronghold in the front-line. A leader leads from the front, a boss pushes from the back, that is, ‘the background’. To correct this, use virtual communication sparingly, why not simply use it to call a proper physical meeting and set things out straight.
iii. The runaway leader: There would be times when meetings and external engagements seem to coming up endlessly, leaders are tempted to stay-off their primary place of assignment. The office of a leader creates work for him by default. Leaders who employ an ‘open door’ policy are most susceptible to this temptation of being absent. Some team members may understand the busy schedule of their leader; however, if it becomes perpetual, the leader would be perceived as absent and distracted rather than hardworking and productive. It shows that the leader is uninterested in his team and his work and this would definitely bring about unhealthy relationship and resentment. This is even worse if the leader is the type who is reserved, unfriendly or inattentive. To avoid this gruesome situation, let your team members know your schedule, communicate with them often and delegate less important assignments and engagements and sometimes get team members involved in what you are doing.
iv. Wrong persuasion: In the quest to gain general support or likeness, leaders are often tempted to say or do things they feel the people want to hear or want done, even if it is at their own personal detriment. This may create unnecessary faction in the team from those who want things done in the right or customary manner. The leader may also be perceived as weak by this set of people and this can spread within the team over time thereby damaging the credibility and integrity of the leader. Team leaders should therefore be open and honest and always show integrity. Be firm, don’t say what you don’t mean and don’t mean what you didn’t say.
v. Lack of attentiveness: Many team leaders cannot listen to their team members, how much more take to correction or accept contributions. Leaders lose favour when they become the sole decision-maker. Sometimes, leaders believe they cannot learn anything from their team members or that things cannot be done properly except by them. When a leader is this way, he would be perceived as difficult-to-please or arrogant and this is a shortcut to loss of motivation and resentment in the team. To avoid this, learn to know when to be quiet, give team members some leverage for expression sometimes, avoid being the only voice.
vi. Downplaying other people’s contributions: Leaders are visioneers and thus have the best idea of what they want to achieve and more often have the greatest passion to achieve it. This may make them oblivious to the contributions of others in the team or make them perceive some contributions as insignificant. Leaders should avoid this by being aware and by giving due credits to each contributing member. Remember, every little helps.
vii. Lack of courage: Leaders are risk-takers. If a leader cannot take bold steps, the followers would become overwhelmed or discouraged or begin to seek a stronger leader figure. To avoid this, always inspire your team members and be strong enough to take bold steps, even if you fail, you are not preternatural, quickly gain composure and move forward with confidence, leaders don’t give up.
viii. Character flaws: Like I earlier said, trust is the foundation of leadership, leadership is integrity. The character of a leader is fragile, volatile and is susceptible to easy scrutiny. A leader is judged by the content of his character and his moral values. Integrity and morality are the biggest assets of a leader and a leader with these attributes will always be in favour with his team. To be a person of character, do good things, keep to your promises and be self-disciplined.
ix. Favouritism: When a leader begins to show that he prefers some people or their inputs over others, sects would begin to arise within the team or some people would become apathetic. This is avoidable if the leader treats everyone equally and corrects everyone with love and camaraderie instead of taking sides or pardoning some member’s mistakes.
x. Taking all the glory: Nothing hurts individuals personally that when their leader ignores their contributions and takes all the glory for all their effort. Leaders often give instructions while followers do the background work. Taking all the glory is the beginning of the end for any leader who does it. If every member of the team is hurt, then there’s no longer real leadership. Avoid this by attributing successes to the contributions of all team members; take extra step by rewarding them in any way, no matter how little.
xi. Being arrogant: Nothing ‘kills’ a leader while still breathing than pride. This is the fastest route to losing favour. If everything is all about you because you are the leader, you will either face massive recalcitrance or heavy resentment from your team. To avoid this, lead with humility and gentleness, inspire others with your advantages.
In conclusion, no leader wants to lose support. Falling out of favour with team members is a very bad thing that can happen to any leader but it can be avoided by treading softly and with wisdom. At the end of the day, the power is in the hands of the people. Leadership is service and servant-hood.