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Broken Leaders – How to spot them

November 19, 2013

An MBA at Harvard will set you back around $150k, at the end of which you’ll have a potentially good leader. Add to this ongoing training at upwards of £500 per day, the costs of selection, shadowing and a few failures and you should get a reasonable manager. Developing good leaders is a costly business.

Stress fractures can be hard to spot but if not rested will render the sufferer immobile

It’s therefore somewhat ironic that while we’ve got better at creating this precious commodity of bright talent we often fail to notice when cracks appear.

A common injury suffered by runners is a stress fracture. The is a hairline break in a bone caused by the repeated pounding of feet on pavement. Similarly, continuous and repeated pressure on talented employees invariably results in hard to detect fissures forming. Symptoms might include:

• Inability to embrace new ideas and projects
• Indecision
• Pessimism
• Disrupted sleep
• Problematic home life

If our favourite pair of shoes or beloved car was in need of repair we’d stop using it and get it repaired by an expert. If we catch the problem early the repair is normally quick and inexpensive, whereas putting off the inevitable, invariable leads to inconvenience and a hefty bill or worse, total breakdown.

The same is true for our employees, wear and tear is to be expected, maintenance isn’t an option it’s essential. Any athlete will confess that as their pace increases so does their dependence on their physiotherapist.

The belief that only those that can take the pressure are fit to lead is a myth. Smart employers allow their best people to take their foot off the gas, recharge and come back stronger, unless of course the organisation is led by sleep deprived pessimists.

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