when a leader is not a fit

If you are ever given the privilege to lead other leaders, at some point, you will be forced to deal with the reality that a teammate is no longer a fit on your team.  Sometimes, because of urgency, fear, or convenience, you may be tempted to put a leader in a position in which they are not capable of leading.  In this case, your heart is filled with good intentions.  However, the more time that passes, the more it becomes abundantly clear that it was the wrong decision.  The leader is not a fit for the role. You feel it, they feel it, and everyone who is attempting to lead with them feels it as well.    


So, what happens when you try to force and a make a person fit in a role in which they are not capable of leading?  What are some of the pain points that are caused when you are attempting to make a square peg fit in a round hole?    


First, let’s take a look at some of the thoughts and results of a leader who is in over his head. You may hear phrases like, "Why did you let me go this far?” "Why did you put me into this role if you didn’t feel I could do it?”  These questions usually come from a leader you placed in a position he couldn’t handle.  However, if you inherited a leader who is ineffective in his role you may be experiencing these warning signs: 


Here are some warning signs of a leader in the wrong position:

  • The leader is often frustrated with the entire situation that he is in.  "I’m just so frustrated.  I feeling I am having to own everything and you are not owning anything. No one else is taking responsibility."
  • The leader may express that he hadn’t been told enough of what he was doing wrong or hadn’t had enough encouragement on what he is doing correct. 
  • The leader feels that the job is way too big.  "Everyone I talk to says one person cannot accomplish what you are asking me to accomplish."
  • The leader doesn’t ask for help.
  • The leader assumes everyone is too busy to help him.
  • The leader operates in a thinking that he has to be told what to do, instead of taking a risk to lead.
  • The leader complains that “You don’t understand all that I am doing.  My work load is too big.  No one in his right mind would expect this on anyone."

Not only is the unqualified leader experiencing pain, the organization is as well.   


Here are some warning signs or pain points of an organization with a leader in a the wrong role:

  • Extra time and energy is required of leadership to pour into an individual with no or little return on investment.
  • The organization spends way too much time in meetings, coaching and investing, trying to motivate the leader.
  • The ineffective teammate has a heightened need to be micro managed instead of led.  The supervisor is usually having to communicate in "If/then" statements.
  • If you were pouring the same amount of time and energy into a different leader, you would see immediate results and leaders moving ahead with the coaching advice.  You see growth to new levels. In this case you see very little breakthrough.
  • Discouragement settles on both the supervising leader and the employee that is being coached. 
  • Negative emotions and energy begin to affect those who work with the ineffective leader.
  • The supervising leader is tempted to compromise best practices and effectiveness for the sake of the  ineffective leader.

If you or a colleague are experiencing these type of pain points and frustrations with a current leader, it may be time for a change.  Take your time and use objective metrics to come to your own conclusions.  Utilize your leadership team.  There is wisdom in a multitude of counselors. Make sure you give adequate time to coach, encourage and equip the struggling leader.  However, if after that time, you see little to no progress, it may be time for a change.  


I know that coming to the conclusion that the struggling leader has to be removed can be gut wrenching.  Take a look back in the rearview mirror and remember how long you have been at this trying to make it work.  How would you coach a colleague in similar circumstances if he asked you what to do.  Often we know the answer for others, but we attempt to avoid the pain in our current circumstances.   However, you are there to lead.  The ineffective leader needs your leadership.  Your organization needs your leadership.  Take a deep breath and lead. 


It’s my heart and passion to help leaders live out their calling and thrive.  I want to be one of those leaders too. I believe that your best days are before you.  We all need a little coaching, encouragement, wisdom, and help.  We can’t accomplish our goals in isolation or always on our own.  We need each other.  It’s time to thrive.  Let’s do it together.  You are not alone. 


It takes courage to acknowledge your current reality and do something to change it.  You are a leader.  Be free to lead.  Click here to set up a Discovery Coaching call.