Why Highly Efficient Leaders Fail

With ever-increasing demands at work for both mid-level and senior leaders, the ability to execute and get things done is a key driver of success. But it can ultimately become a leader’s downfall, resulting in unintended costs for the individual, as well as for their teams and organizations.

The high levels of efficiency that allow highly task-focused leaders to be so productive often come at the expense of a more people-based focus. Things like building relationships, inspiring a team, developing others, and showing empathy can fall by the wayside. Highly efficient leaders often lose their focus on people due to a limiting belief that more people-focused activities will slow them down and impede their ability to execute, and to ultimately be successful.

The irony is that an intense focus on efficiency and getting things done (consistent with the pacesetting leadership style in Daniel Goleman’s classic Leadership that Gets Results) makes these leaders less effective overall. The result is often a negative impact on organizational climate and burnout of team members. In a 2017 study by Kronos and Future Workplace, burnout was highlighted as the biggest threat to employee engagement, with 95% of HR leaders citing it as a key driver of employee turnover.

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