Skip to main content

The #1 Fatal Flaw of Uninspiring Leaders

| February 5, 2013

by Jim Bruce

Jack Zenger is the CEO and Joseph Folkman is the president of Zenger | Folkman, a leadership development consultancy.  They are the authors, with Scott K. Edinger, of The Inspiring Leader:  Unlocking the Secrets of How Extraordinary Leaders Motivate.  In their blog posting, they report that shortly after The Inspiring Leader was published, a prestigious journal expressed interest in publishing an extract from the book.  But, instead of asking to publish something on building strengths, they wanted to publish an extract from the chapter on the 10 Fatal Flaws.  Their explanation, “Good news isn’t selling.”

Their essay focuses on the number one issue that keeps leaders from being inspiring:  lack of energy and enthusiasm.  Zenger | Folkman uses the term “fatal flaw” to indicate a behavioral competency that will derail a person’s career.

That the lack of energy and enthusiasm is at the top of the list is probably a surprise.  Most of us think that our performance or our expertise in the field would be at the top of the list.  After all, is it any of my employer’s business whether I’m happy or not as long as I do my job.

There is a growing body of research that indicates that an individual’s mood can impact those around him or her.  For example, if you have a close relationship with a happy person, the probability that you will be happy goes up by 25%.  So, when we are down at work, it impacts those around us;  for example, our team.

Research indicates that leaders, on average,  have more influence than a close relationship on the moods of others.  The Zenger | Folkman research shows that team members who worked for an uninspiring leader were only at the 9th percentile in terms of satisfaction and commitment to do a good job.  They simply didn’t like their jobs.  51% of this group was also thinking about quitting.

In the Leaders Programs, we talk about a leader always being on stage.  Part of being on stage is the mood you display when you interact with others.  These interactions can be inspiring and building or discouraging and frustrating.  If you believe that every interaction matters, then you’ll look for ways to encourage, support, build, and inspire.

So, as you interact with people this week, check on your mood;  it matters.

. . . jim