Why leaders fail and what to do about it

EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP is an essential element for the success and prosperity of any society. Leaders play a critical role in providing direction, inspiration, and guidance to their followers and navigating complex challenges that arise within their communities. When leaders are able to perform their roles effectively, they can bring about positive change and transformation. However, the reality is that not all leaders are able to lead effectively, and this can have a negative impact on society.

A common perception of bad leaders is that they are corrupt or malicious individuals who intentionally make decisions that harm their followers. While this can be the case in some situations, the reality is often more complicated than this. Many leaders simply lack the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience to lead effectively, and this often leads to poor decision-making and ineffective leadership. In this article, I explain that bad leadership is not always due to wickedness or prejudice, but due to simple inability. Many bad leaders are not malicious, they are simply incompetent.


One of the primary reasons for bad leadership is a lack of relevant skills and knowledge. Leadership is a complex and multifaceted skill that requires a combination of technical expertise and strategic thinking. Without a solid understanding of the key components of leadership, leaders may struggle to make sound decisions and effectively navigate the challenges they face. A leader who lacks the technical knowledge necessary to understand the nuances of a complex issue may be ill-equipped to make informed decisions and develop effective strategies to address it. For example, a political leader may lack knowledge of economic policies, leading to poor financial decisions that can negatively impact their constituents.

Another reason for incompetence in leadership is the challenge of navigating complex societal problems. Complex societal problems will require innovative solutions. Societal issues such as poverty, inequality, and corruption are often deeply ingrained and multifaceted, making them difficult to solve. Creating effective solutions to these social problems can be challenging to even the best of leaders. For example, leaders could aim to address the root causes of poverty in their communities. But they may struggle to navigate through the various stakeholders involved and to balance conflicting interests. The ability to manage these challenges effectively requires strong leadership skills and the capacity to work collaboratively with various stakeholders.Top of Form

Bottom of Form

Furthermore, leaders may also face challenges in navigating political and economic systems that prioritize personal interests over the needs of the community. In some cases, leaders may be pressured to make decisions that benefit certain groups or individuals, rather than the broader community. This can lead to perceptions of bad leadership, even if the leader is acting in what they perceive to be the best interests of their constituents. For example, a leader who is pressured to award contracts to a certain company, rather than the most qualified bidder, may come across as corrupt or ineffective.

Support and resources

When leaders find themselves in overwhelming situations, it can be easy to succumb to the pressure and make poor decisions. However, there are several things they can do to manage the situation effectively and lead their communities towards a better future.

One important step is to recognize and acknowledge their limitations. This means understanding that they may not have all the answers or skills needed to solve complex problems. Leaders who recognize their limitations can then seek out advice and guidance from experts or seek additional education and training. For example, a business leader who struggles with financial management may seek advice from a financial consultant or enroll in a financial management course.

Leaders can seek out support and guidance from mentors or trusted advisors. They can reach out to individuals who have experience in similar situations, who can provide valuable insights and advice. For example, a newly elected political leader can seek guidance from a former political leader who successfully navigated through difficult situations. By learning from the experiences of others, leaders can avoid making the same mistakes and make informed decisions.

Secondly, leaders can invest in leadership development programs or training. These programs can provide valuable knowledge and skills that leaders can use to navigate complex problems and make effective decisions. For example, a business leader can enroll in a leadership training program that covers topics such as communication, collaboration, and problem-solving. Such training can equip leaders with the tools they need to lead effectively in any situation.

Finally, leaders need to build strong teams around them. Effective leaders understand that they cannot do everything on their own, and they need a strong team to support them. They can delegate tasks to their team members, who can help them, manage the workload and bring in different perspectives. For example, a community leader can build a team that includes individuals with expertise in areas such as finance, law, and social work. By working together, they can develop solutions that benefit their community as a whole.

The need for self-awareness

Accurate self-awareness is a critical component of effective leadership. It allows leaders to understand their own strengths and weaknesses, biases, and blind spots. This understanding can help them make better decisions, communicate more effectively, and build stronger relationships with their followers and stakeholders.

One way leaders can gain accurate self-awareness is through 360-degree feedback assessments. These assessments involve gathering feedback from a leader’s superiors, peers, and subordinates, providing a comprehensive view of their leadership style and effectiveness. This feedback can be used to identify areas for improvement and develop a plan for personal and professional growth.

Another approach is to engage in self-reflection and introspection. Leaders can take time to reflect on their past experiences, successes, and failures, and consider how they can apply these lessons to their current leadership roles. This reflection can help them identify patterns of behavior and thought that may be hindering their effectiveness as leaders.

Leaders can also seek out honest and constructive feedback from trusted sources, such as mentors, colleagues, or coaches. This feedback can help them identify blind spots and areas for improvement, and provide them with valuable insights that they may not have considered before.

In conclusion, gaining accurate self-awareness is a continuous process that requires a commitment to personal growth and development. By engaging in self-reflection, seeking feedback, and engaging in 360-degree assessments, leaders can develop a deeper understanding of themselves and become more effective in their roles. Ultimately, this can lead to better decision-making, improved communication, and stronger relationships with their followers and stakeholders, resulting in a more positive impact on society.

Gbenga Ajayi (PhD) is a change expert and social transformation strategist.

You can reach him at: gbengaajayi7@gmail.com, Twitter: Gbenga Ajayi PhD, Linkedin: gbengaajayi, PhD

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *