As shown in the extensive research of our web site section, Focusing on Strengths, we have overwhelming evidence that building strengths is 2 to 3 times more effective than fixing weaknesses, closing gaps, or “rounding out” lower leadership skills.
But when a weaker leadership skill crosses the line into fatal flaw territory the “horns effect” dramatically changes the picture. The polar opposite of the “halo effect” a fatal flaw creates a perceptional distortion that overshadows and pulls down a leader’s stronger areas to the point they may not be noticed or appreciated.
The blinding glare of just one fatal flaw means that a leader’s overall effectiveness is rated in the lower 20% of his or her peers. Two or more fatal flaws put a leader in the bottom 10%. We’ve correlated this into scraping the very bottom of employee engagement, productivity, turnover, customer service, safety, and profitability. Leaders who don’t address their fatal flaws destroy people, teams, organizations — and their careers.
Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman recently published a CNN article on their study of 52,000 leaders to determine the very worst behaviors that differentiated the very worst leaders. Here’s what they found rank ordered from the least to the most fatal:
1. Failure to Coach and Develop Others
2. Bad Role Model
3. Lack of Strategic Perspective
4. Prefer Working Independently Instead of Collaborating
5. Resist Goals and Improvement
6. Poor Communication
7. Failure to inspire and motivate others
The deadly fatal flaw spiral is accelerated by the leader’s lack of awareness about how he or she is perceived. Like the drivers who rage against others and rate themselves as above average, we often see badly rated leaders rate themselves much higher than everyone else does.
Our research shows that self-assessments are only have as accurate as a 360 assessment with perceptions aggregated from direct reports, peer, manager(s), and others. Learn more at Feedback Power and Problems and take steps to reverse the fatal flaw spiral or avoid highly ineffective leadership behaviors.