Leader on Leader Frustrations

I work with leaders in a variety of industries and organizational sizes. Lately, it seems most of my clients are frustrated with the leadership at the top. Here’s why:

  1. Lack of vision
  2. Lack of specific goals and/or too many goals
  3. Indecision

Looking at the list, it seems so obvious… Leaders need a vision to determine where the organization is going; a strategy of targeted action steps to get there; resourced and enabled people; and decisiveness to act on both opportunities and challenges.

Here are my recommended fixes:

  1. Clarify Vision: Vision setting is an essential component of organizational direction. Determine where you want to be as an organization 3 years from now. Once the vision is set, it should be revisited yearly. Ensure the vision can be articulated by every single employee – at all levels. The most successful vision statements engage employees with the ability for them to directly correlate their personal work to the company vision.
  2. Establish Concrete Goals: Demand a strategic planning process. After which, you should have the 3-5 most important objectives that will progress the vision. I’ve seen it countless times, companies bite off more than they can chew. The result is burnout and disengaged employees. This leaves the organization in a precarious position to meet their goals. Sometimes less is more. There’s no shame in hiring a management consulting company or other outside consultant to support something as important as your strategic planning process.
  3. Resource & Enable: After clear deliverables are established, leadership MUST resource and enable their teams to achieve goals. Can you imagine how frustrating it would be to hear that your team needs to deliver on a strategic goal but there’s no budget to hire an additional person and no funds to elevate a technology solution that would best achieve the goal?! Therefore, it is essential that budgeting be a part of the strategic planning process.
  4. Decide: This is perhaps the most challenging and the most important. Without clear decisions, people stay in a “spin cycle” and work doesn’t progress. Indecision also leads to lost confidence and trust in leadership, and trust is the foundation of all high performing teams. You’ve heard the adage: Indecision is worse than a bad decision. It’s so true. At least with a “bad” decision, the organization can move forward and course correct as needed. I invite all leaders to make the most informed decision in the moment, using the best information they have at the time. You can’t be afraid to make a bad decision because you probably will; it’s an inevitable part of running an organization. In the long run, your people will benefit from and respect you for your decisiveness.

The next time you feel frustrated with the top leaders in your organization, try to identify which of the above steps is missing. From there, start a conversation and recommend solutions to get back on track.