Consequences of Hiring a Bad Leader – How to Rein in the Far-reaching Aftermath

It is often thought that any leadership experience is valuable enough, but the consequences of hiring a lousy leader focuses the spotlight on why hiring needs to be a careful, methodical process. The process of hiring a leader is not the same as any other recruitment drive. A host of interview processes to test skills, personality tests such as psychometric testing, and role-playing scenarios help identify good leaders. Being a leader cannot be done by pretense, or by merely wearing the garb – it is those unique traits and strengths that let a person bring out the best in the individuals he/she associates with by becoming one with them.

What is the importance of employee development (as a symbol of good leadership)

Bad leadership behaviors demoralize team members and cause them to lose faith in their abilities. This can be disruptive at an organizational level. Leaders who strain to keep authority by intimidation, hurtful criticism or personal attacks on employees make them look for other opportunities. Subordinates facing such treatment decide on distancing themselves in this job-seeker-led market. The organization would be better off keeping a close eye on people in leadership positions so that the reasons for decreased productivity are correctly attributed. For instance, Didier Elzinga, through the Culture Amp Blog, observes that employees rebel against faulty administration systems by blaming their managers. It follows that a good leader can counter such sentiments by offering better Mentorship, skill-development, and employee development opportunities. In the same article, Elzinga shows data to confirm that where ‘below average’ managers offering recognition and learning opportunities inspire a commitment of 56% to the team while ‘above average’ managers effortlessly inspire 66% engagement with the team. But where such opportunities are not on the cards for employees, commitment is at a standstill at 35%.

What a bad leader can and cannot do:

  • Make employees feel invested in: A company that nurtures employees’ skills is seen as a trustworthy and benevolent entity
  • Prepares them for future leadership positions: Hiring from a pool of certified, talented individuals simplify future recruitment efforts for the company.
  • Promotes loyalty and engagement with one’s team: Teams that learn together find it workable to band together and bail each other out during tough scenarios. This forges better morale and puts a favorable work culture at play.
  • Generates a positive financial impact: Not only is hiring from the company’s existing workforce cheaper, but it also promises a smooth transition for all concerned. Since their credentials are current and authentic, hiring managers need to spend less on verification.

With the importance of employee development firmly established, it shows how bleak the consequences are for hiring a lousy leader. It affects employee morale (this has a direct relation to decreased productivity), brings on the overall cultural degradation, and has a chain reaction of negative financial impact. The most profound negative impact is on the brand image of the company.

It is worth looking at the effects of bad leadership in an organization in detail:

Unclear purpose: Questionable leadership begins even before any work is done. It chips away at productivity by not setting clear aims and milestones for a project. It results in employees working with unclear goals, or on vastly divergent ones. A team that does not work for a shared purpose is often working in different (even opposite) directions. A purposeless piece of work results in less than ideal results, wasting valuable resources in the process. The sunk cost in this scenario goes further than funding – it results in an irreversible waste of time.

Poor communication: A good leader tries to create relationships and build connections within the team. He/she would not be afraid of delegating, and would not see the formation of such bonds as a threat to their position at the helm. This strengthens the team and heightens morale. It ensures that the entire team is on the same page and works towards a collective goal. A bad leader, however, does not communicate clearly. This creates gaps as well as loopholes within the team. Information can be miscommunicated and may even create conflicts within the organization. Communication barricades formed over time in a group can lead to an ultimate breakdown of trust and work relationships.

Shirked responsibility: A bad leader refuses to take ownership of a botched project. By skirting around the issue and not keeping accountability up, he/she exemplifies similar behavior in the team members as well. Such a situation makes it extremely difficult to identify problem areas and arrive at future courses of action for correcting them.

Financial impact: People at the receiving end of lousy leadership end up with emotional scars to which they respond by letting the quality of work drop, or leave projects (and organizations) altogether. When there is no mode of counseling and troubleshooting in place, corrective action can be hard to bring home. This results in an appalling attrition rate for companies with corrupt leaders. Karen Higginbottom points out that in 2015, a staggering 42% of employees have ascribed the reason for leaving a job to the fact that their managers have demonstrated questionable leadership practices. This is a direct financial loss.

It is not surprising that employees count ‘getting along with the boss’ as an essential criterion for having a positive work environment. As many as 74% of surveyed respondents of a study by Forbes Magazine feel that it is a crucial contributor to their overall job satisfaction.

The numbers show how essential authentic, self-effacing traits are for a leader. Bad leadership behaviours are too costly for the functioning of the business, not only in terms of financial impact but also in terms of cultural degradation and decreased productivity.

On the other hand, effective leadership tends to increase job satisfaction. They focus on researching employee development methods and making the best ones available, recognizing effort, and actively motivating employees by engaging with them and forming a deep connection. Ultimately, these companies inspire loyalty so strong that they reduce employee turnover, and are unhindered by absenteeism and tardiness.

Conclusion: Consequences of hiring a bad leader are detrimental in the long run, and this is a situation where an organization has to take active steps to correct such behaviors. It would do well to tweak its recruitment practices to hire positive role models for its employees.

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