Leadership failure is not a new thing in our lives. In the recent cases of leadership, failures have been witnessed from all parts of the world. Leadership failure can be defined as the inability of a leader to carry the responsibilities bestowed to him/her by his/her subjects. It is the failure of a leader to live up to the requirements of the office (Sornum, 2010). Leadership failure has been a common phenomenon in the modern society in such areas as religion, sports, business, politics and other sectors where leaders do not focus on the objectives of their groups (Sornum, 2010). Many companies have gone down in the recent past as a result of poor guidance from their leaders and Enron is a good example. The most interesting thing is that the leaders who fail are those who have been successful in the past. This is because they are occupied with their past successes and are less careful. The chairman of Enron Kenneth Lay and the CEO Jeffrey were previously successful leaders. This shows that the gap between leadership failure and leadership success is very small. It is very interesting that the leaders that are successful one day become leadership failures the next day due to greedy and careless (Hansbrough & Schyns, 2010). Research has been conducted to determine why successful leaders are the most susceptible to failure. However, so far, there are no conclusive findings obtained to explain the situation. Therefore, it is important to understand that leaders are not unique persons and as much as we are annoyed with their failure, we ought to understand them and accept that they can too fail and make mistakes just like we do (Sornum, 2010).
Everybody can experience failure in their leadership. However, human beings are unpredictable and the distance between the beloved leaders and the despised leaders in very short (Sornum, 2010). We should give them a second chance to correct their mistakes. We praise successful leaders and despise those who fail in most instances. When a leader fails to lead his or her subjects to the promised or intended destination, this is explained as the failure of leadership (Ciulla, 2004). However, it is worth noting that not all failures are the results of the mistakes made by the leader. Some are the result of the mistakes of the subjects, who failed to support their leaders towards the achievement of the pre-determined goals and objectives. This is as a result of poor leadership structure and subjects giving their own interest more attention that those of the group. Leaders are sometimes unable to change the personalities of their (Ciulla, 2004).
There are several factors that contribute to leadership failure. They include ethics slip, shift in focus, poor communication, poor self-management, lost passion of leadership, and risk aversion among others. Ethic slip results in integrity problems among leaders. A leader's ethical ability is determined by the leader’s competency and character among other factors (Ciulla, 2004). If a leader neglects either of the two, his/her integrity becomes questionable and this becomes beginning of their leadership failure. According to Ciulla (2004), integrity is one of the most crucial principles of leadership. When a leader fails to uphold integrity, their followers lack trust in them because he is viewed as failure (Hansbrough & Schyns, 2010). It becomes difficult for leaders to direct their followers if they cannot lead themselves and as a result the leader is unable to achieve the intended goals and objectives. Sometimes the leaders with questionable integrity fail to direct their followers because they lack courage in themselves and they become followers as they try to ease their guilt of their past failures (Aborishade, 2007).
Shift of focus is another factor that contributes to leadership failure. Effective leaders are determined by their ability to think great. Once their focus shifts, they fail to think in the right dimension and this affects their leadership abilities because they attend to many things at the same time. Leaders with shifted focuscease from doing the most important things and concentrate on the minor things that are not part of the intended goals and objectives (Hansbrough & Schyns, 2010). Leaders with shifted focus involve themselves on the issues that could be done by other people in the organization, thereby failing to address their core responsibilities and delegating directives to their followers. When a leader shifts focus from key responsibilities, the organization lacks direction and this tend to the beginning of failure in leadership. This is because; a successful leader is determined by the achievements he/she has made in accordance to the intended goals and objectives of his/her followers when they do their tasks correctly (Hansbrough & Schyns, 2010).
Communication is another crucial factor in leadership. A good leader should have good communication skills. When a leader lacks focus it creates room for poor communication. It can result into a big challenge when followers fail to understand the intentions of their leaders, because they are not sure of the intentions themselves. Moreover, they cannot communicate these intentions to the followers.When a leader fails to find common language with its followers, there is no or little flow of vital information and goals and objectives in many cases cannot be achieved. Sometimes leaders assume that followers are aware of their intended goals and they will implement them based on the past trust. (Ciulla, 2004). On the other hand, followers may neglect to respond to the assumptions made by their leadersand this result to confusion in the organization. Leaders, who fail to communicate well with their followers, are most likely unable to communicate their directives to them or obtain feedback and views from the followers.
Risk aversion is another factor that contributes to leadership failure. This is a situation where leader fears taking risks due to fear from their past mistakes or desire to maintain their past reputation. Actually, it is believed that it is the reason why most of the leaders who fail are those who were previously successful and are too careful to avoid making mistakes (Banks, 2008). When leaders are driven by fear, they frequently fail to take calculated risks.They become less innovative, and this is the beginning of a failure in leadership. Additionally, poor management is another factor that contributes to leadership failure. Leaders, who fail to manage themselves and take care of personal life, are drained, demotivated and depressed by the demands of their followers. It results in losing the love of whatever they are doing and they are less committed to their responsibilities. This can also be the beginning of a leadership failure (Banks, 2008).
Leadership failure comes has numerous consequences to the leader, the followers and the organization in general (Banks, 2008). Failure in leadership lowers the self-esteem and respect of a leader from the followers. When a leader fails, he or she frequently loses the power to influence his or her followers as they do not trust him or her anymore (Aborishade, 2007). Followers are also affected by failure in leadership. Their efforts are misled due to poor of direction and they are unable to achieve their intended goals and objectives.Followers who fail to adhere to their responsibilities towards the achievement of the objectives of the organization suffer from the consequences of the failure. They end up losing their jobs and other benefits as a result of the mistakes made by their leaders. The organization isunder the pressure as well. Leaders are the ones who determine the performance of an organization by providing directives to the rest of the workforce. When a leader fails the organization fails as well. Poor returns, especially in profit are the most significant consequences because this is the main goals of most of the business organizations. (Hansbrough & Schyns, 2010). This study shows that leadership means understanding the responsibilities of being a leader and leaders are supposed to uphold the factors that contribute to successful leadership. It is also important for followers to understand their leaders and help them correct their failures instead of condemning. This way, leaders who fail ones can correct their mistakes and become efficient leaders. Consequently, this results in increased organizational performance. This is because some of the leaders do not fail because they are bad, but because of the actions of their followers. Nevertheless, the leaders have the responsibility leading their followers. This study also shows that communication, ethics, focus and the ability to take reasonable risks are very important factors that every leader should uphold in order to be successful because they are the key principles of leadership (Aborishade, 2007).
In conclusion, leadership failure is a common phenomenon among modern institutions and the consequences are sometimes very severe to the leaders involved, their followers and organizations. Leadership failure is caused by factors that arise from the mistakes and those of the followers (Aborishade, 2007). Leadership does not occur in only profit oriented organizations, but in all sectors of life (Aborishade, 2007. It is also worth noting that failure in leadership can be avoided leaders can uphold all the factors that contribute to successful leadership.