I have seen many intelligent and hardworking leaders with good intentions become lazy. Such leaders do not shy away from performing their duties but they seldom exhibit the qualities that make a good leader. Moreover, they are generally so stressed and overwhelmed that they cannot find the energy and motivation to lead.
Signs You Are a Lazy Leader
People often confuse a lazy leader with a laissez-faire leader so let’s begin by addressing the elephant in the room. A lazy leader is not the same as a Laissez-faire leader. While the latter involves a hands-off approach to leadership, a lazy leader is well—for lack of a better word—just lazy.
So, what makes a leader lazy? They typically do not spend enough time asking for feedback, collaborating with colleagues, listening carefully to other’s needs, explaining their vision, engaging in effective, empathic, and emotionally regulated communication, having the big picture in mind, thinking strategically and so much more. Here are some signs that you are a lazy leader.
1. You are Sensitive, Aggressive, and Ready to Attack Others
Lazy leaders are both sensitive and aggressive. They do not hesitate in expressing their feelings when hurt and are always ready to attack others. To say it another way, they do not have any control over their emotions.
You would find a lazy leader getting involved in matters only when things go wrong. Additionally, they have a habit of taking all the credit for the positive outcomes while blaming the team for any negative results.
A lazy leader refrains from praising their team when they do a good job but is quick to blame them when something goes wrong.
Such behavior from the leader results in a reserved relationship between them and the team, which negatively impacts the latter’s performance and outcomes.
2. You Are Not Accountable
Lazy leaders do not allow themselves to be held accountable for their decisions and the tasks they delegate. The leadership style of “just do as I say” saves the leader a great deal of time. Such leaders get their way most of the time since they don’t have to justify the reason behind their decisions.
They tell people what to do and that they have to follow the orders without questions. Unfortunately, this leads to a leader who is disrespected, inefficient, and insecure.
3. You Don’t Follow Through
Taking action is far more complicated than making wise choices. The most common pitfall for leaders is devoting too much time to getting things done while ignoring the need to see things through to completion. This is one of the attributes that make a leader lazy.
4. You Make Excuses and Slow Roll Programs
Lazy leaders always have a way out of tricky situations for themselves. The failure of implementation or follow-through is always blamed on someone else. This provides them with an ‘easy way out’ and buys them time to come up with more excuses for their ‘inaction’ or the slow pace of work.
Steps to Combat Lazy Leadership
Lazy leadership is a major obstacle in the success of teams, organizations, and even nations. Fortunately, there are ways to combat and overcome lazy leadership. If you fit any of the lazy leadership characteristics above, I suggest the following steps:
1. Create A ‘No Blame’ and ‘No Excuses’ Culture
It takes time to win someone’s trust. It necessitates the time and participation of the leader in the goals of the team and each individual.
Your team will not make progress if they do not feel trusted. And they will never achieve the goals set for them if they are not making progress. Look to build trust by creating a culture where no one is singled out for ‘blame’ and where you are inclined to offer solutions rather than make excuses.
2. Ensure Accountability
While being accountable for your decisions may be a hard pill to swallow, it is needed to ensure the best outcomes in leadership. Additionally, holding everyone in your team accountable will allow you to get to the root of the problems facing them. Pay attention to your team and to signs that something is not quite right. It is your job to make sure that every person works towards and accomplishes their goals.
3. Sets Goals and Follow-Up
As a leader, you must preserve your vision for the team long after the excitement has worn off. You must also provide your followers or subordinates with the tools and resources they need to accomplish the vision. Keep in mind that leadership has both a strategic and tactical aspect. You must be competent at both to be successful.
4. Break Through the Noise and Non-Sense
It is crazy what you can find when you pay attention. You will observe minor events that, when left unattended, can escalate into major conflicts. It will allow you to teach your team how to handle diverse ideas and situations constructively rather than letting them erupt and leaving the pieces to hang around indefinitely.
5. Have Empathy and Regulate Emotions
Good leaders show the right amount of empathy towards their followers. Moreover, they are always in control of their emotions. They have respect, appreciation, and gratitude for all but never go overboard with their feelings. They get the respect and trust of their followers without being seen as weak or sensitive.
Rather than taking the route needed to create the value demanded from them, lazy leaders take the easier way out. In other words, they lead on autopilot. The good news is that you do not have to carry the tag of a lazy leader with you forever. By making the required changes, you can get your due reward; you will no longer carry the ‘lazy’ label with you.
One of the Top 100 Coaches, and Founder and CEO of Best Practice Institute, partner to Newsweek on America’s Most Loved Workplaces, and the author of more than 10 books on best practices in leadership and management, including Change Champion’s Field Guide, In Great Company, and Best Practices in Talent Management. Thought leaders and executives voted him as one of Global Gurus Top 10 Organizational Culture thinkers worldwide.