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The 'Hindrance Trap': When Leaders Aren't Leading

The 'Hindrance Trap': When Leaders Aren't Leading

September 21, 2012

Leaders by definition believe they are leading their company to success. But a recent study from the Thunderbird School of Management, Phoenix, AZ, found that only 35 percent of respondents from high-performing companies said their leaders were doing a good job of inspiring employees to participate in strategic initiatives. What does that mean for the other 65 percent?

The study authors blame what they call the "hindrance trap" that lulls emerging leaders into a false sense of accomplishment. And the say three forces are at work in the trap:

1. The process of becoming a leader – "As corporate climbers move up the ranks, they are encouraged to think big and leave the details to others." Delegating responsibilities is one thing; abandoning the implementation part of your great idea is another. As we've said often in the pages of MDM, everything starts at the top.

2. Lack of a feedback loop – If your employees don't have a way to tell you when you're hindering the process rather than helping, how are you going to find out? Create an environment that encourages honest feedback.

3. Success – This may seem counterintuitive, but as uncovered at one Fortune 100 company, 60 percent of respondents said they were successful in spite of management. Management, while ineffective, received credit for the success of the team – which in turn could create some bitterness among the rank and file.

While the hindrance trap can be extremely detrimental to the long-term health of your company, being aware of the issues and addressing them from the top can actually create a stronger company.

As the report authors say: "Few people look in the mirror and see a bad boss. It is always easier to critique others than ourselves. Yet if we are willing to look inward and don’t like what we find, the good news is we already have taken the first step to improve."

Read more about the study here.

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