The Number One Cause of Management Failure
by Dave Anderson
There are many reasons managers fail. For some, the organization outgrows them. Others don't change with the times. Others still spread themselves too thin and work long and hard but not smart. Many abandon the priorities and disciplines that once made them great and never get back to them. A few make poor character choices. They look good for a while but eventually discover they can't get out of their own way. Increasingly more keep the wrong people too long because they don't want to admit they made a mistake or have high turnover become a negative reflection on them. Some failures had brilliant past track records but started using their success as a license to build a fence around what they had rather than continue to risk and stretch to build it to even higher levels. But all these causes for management failure have their root in one common cause: pride. In simplest terms, pride is devastating. Having pride in what you do is not the type of pride I'm referring to in this article. I'm indicting the pride that inflates your sense of self-worth and distorts your perspective of reality.
1. Pride will stop you from building a team. Because you depend too much on yourself you won't trust, delegate to or give additional opportunities to others. Quite frankly, because of your inflated sense of self-worth you won't really see the need for others. Thus, you'll become the one-man show, micromanaging and limiting others in your charge.
2. Pride renders you un-teachable. Your pride tells you that you know it all and thus you don't commit to personal growth. There's always something better to do with your time and money and since your ego convinces you that you've arrived and have all the answers, who needs business books or seminars?
3. Pride closes your mind to feedback. When others offer you advice or direction you let it go in one ear and out the other and do things your way. Because of your bloated ego you never seek out feedback that would help you grow as it could be seen as a sign of weakness.
4. Pride causes you to keep the wrong people too long. Many managers keep obvious misfits on their payrolls because to fire them would be a tacit admission they made a mistake in the first place or were unable to develop the person to a higher level. Their pride convinces them if they keep working with the miserable that one day they can elevate them up to mediocre.
5. Pride will prevent you from admitting mistakes on one hand while it encourages you to take all the credit on the other. Thus, you will teach others to cover their own behinds by virtue of your own corrupt example and never build an open, trusting environment.
6. Pride will cause you to pledge allegiance to the status quo rather than be open to change; especially if the change alters something you put into place. Since you have more emotional equity in the way things are, you'll justify living with them rather than changing them.
7. Pride encourages poor character choices. Because of arrogance, ignorance or a little of both, leaders start taking shortcuts that compromise their values. In their conceit they think they're above the rules or are too smart to get caught.
In his book, Good to Great , Jim Collins' research showed that the leaders of the great companies maintained a strong personal humility balanced with a ferocious ambition for the organization. This is an optimal recipe for great leaders. It's fine to be proud of your business, abilities and accomplishments. But when pride causes you to fall into any of these traps it won't be long until you're finished as a leader. You don't have to look far to see how pride has wreaked havoc on leaders from all walks; destroying Enron, imprisoning Jim Bakker, deluding Saddam and tarnishing Iacocca.
Proverbs indicates that pride comes before destruction and lists pride as the first of seven things God hates. I don't know about you, but that certainly gets my attention. Too many people think that ancient, proven and universal laws somehow don't apply to them; that they're different or above what the rest of us must pay attention to. They are dead wrong. We all may fall into prideful traps from time to time. It comes with the territory of being a flawed human being. But failing to recognize the error and change your course is what finishes you as a leader because pride is a character flaw and leaders that last and leave legacies have their character in tact. This prediction of demise is not a guess it's a guarantee. It's not a matter of "if" but of "when." There are no exceptions.
If pride hinders you it's time to face it and begin to humble yourself before the marketplace does it for you. Humility doesn't mean you think less of yourself it just means you think of yourself less. If pride is infecting your people don't pretend it isn't happening. Care enough to confront them with it. Letting them live in denial is dangerous because they will continue to misdiagnose everything wrong with their business and their life. Until they acknowledge how pride holds them back they will never change it.
Peak performance author, columnist, trainer, speaker and radio show host for sales, management and leadership, Dave Anderson walks the talk as a leader. He has led some of the most successful retail automotive dealership in the country-the most recent dealer group he led had over $300,000,000 in annual sales-and now gives 150 presentations, workshops and speeches annually on sales and leadership development around the globe. Visit Dave's website at http://www.learntolead.com
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