Although we tend to think of leaders as dominant and unafraid, many have a tendency toward conflict avoidance.
There's a large group of executives who have a desperate need to be liked and approved of.
Afraid to do anything that might threaten acceptance, they are unable (or unwilling) to make to make difficult decisions or to exercise authority.
Conflict avoidance is neither a successful nor, in the end, a popular leadership style: the leader who always appeases is like someone who feeds crocodiles hoping that they'll eat him last.
There's nothing bad about being nice, but there comes a point when every leader has to say, "my way or the highway."
Another pattern that leads to leadership incompetence is the tyrannization of subordinates.
These are people who like the smell of napalm in the morning.
The people in the one-down position hope to acquire some of the power that the aggressor possesses.
Unfortunately, all they accomplish is to become aggressors themselves, thus increasing the total organizational aggression.
An example of destructively abrasive behaviour can be seen in the former CEO of Scott Paper and later Sunbeam.
An advocate of shareholder value ad absurdum, he believed that only short-term thinking mattered. What happened to a company in the long run because of his interventions wasn't his concern.
He once said, "You're not in the business of being likedů.If you want a friend, get a dog."
Of the eight companies he was involved in, six no longer exist.
Another cause of leadership derailment is micromanagement.
This is seen in executives who are so detail oriented that they can't let go of control.
The lack of thrust in the capabilities of others has a stifling effect on all organizational processes. Micromanagement isn't the way to get the best out of people, in fact, all it's good for is ruining morale and destroying organizations.
Manic executives, possessed of apparently boundless energy, push themselves and others to the limit.
But they are so hyperactive that they don't always notice what it is they're doing (even when what they are doing is dead wrong).
Their is a vast difference between working hard and working smart.
Inaccessibility of leadership is another common problem.
Some executives are so full of self-importance that they have no time for others. It wouldn't occur to them to lead by example or to walk around the workplace and marketplace listening to their primary constituencies.
Lofty and unapproachable, they shield themselves behind a battery of secretaries and assistants and closed-door policies.
Like manic leaders and inaccessible leaders game players can talk and think only about themselves; and their attention falters when others talk (unless they themselves are the subject of discussion).
Furthermore, their personal gaols sway the organizational goals.
They refuse to let their subordinates shine, using and abusing them rather than helping them grow and develop; and they do everything possible to steal the attention from their superiors.
Not surprisingly, game players experience high turnover among their people.
All these behaviour patterns contribute to the two M's of failed leadership: mistrust and malaise.
If the trust level is low, some kind of malaise will occur.
Although the details will very from firm to firm, some symptoms are universal: creative thinking will be suppressed, a cover your back mentally will prevail, and "bureaupathology" (that is an excess of paperwork and supportive documentation) will emerge.