The 5 Times Your Leadership Is Guaranteed to Fail

We all want leadership to be successful. But some circumstances are reliable pointers to failure. Learn what they are and how to avoid them.

Done right, leadership is difficult. It brings great rewards, but at great risk. You have to put yourself on the line—so when you do, you want the best possible odds of success.

In some situations, though, failure is all but guaranteed. Here are five of the most common. Get to know them so you can steer far clear.

1. When there is no trust. Leadership is about credibility and reliability; to be an effective leader, your followers must have trust in you. That’s why it’s critical to always take responsibility for your actions. Make sure your people feel guided and supported in their work and show that they can trust your leadership.

2. When there is no character. Leaders build excellence—helping their team become all that they are capable of. To reach that level of excellence requires leadership that is grounded in character. Excellence starts with leaders of strong character who model doing what is right, not what is easy.

3. When there is no communication. No one ever became a great leader without first becoming a great communicator. Successful leaders connect with people on an emotional level every time they speak. Their words build relationships, teach, and inspire others. Great communication also means listening well and treating your team with candor and honesty.

4. When there is no respect. You can’t lead anyone who doesn’t respect you, and it’s hard to lead those you don’t also respect. Respect must be first given before its earned. That means thinking about every small thing you do as a leader and how it is perceived. Leaders who know how to give the utmost respect will receive respect, in the form of loyalty and performance.

5. When there is no ability. To be successful requires tactical and technical proficiency. In any organization it is the leader’s capabilities and performance that set the tone for the team’s engagement. Leadership is empty without an understanding of the work at hand, and the best leaders work constantly to improve their expertise.

How is your own leadership looking? Are you doing what it takes to propel it forward?

Lead from within: Decide what kind of leader you going to be—the kind who is content to think of themselves as the best, or the one of the few greats whose leadership achieves the highest levels.



N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR,, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

  1. Edward Colozzi

    17. May, 2016

    Dear Lolly,
    Sending you a warm aloha nui from Boston my friend and a brief response to your always inspiring and “on-target” posts. Your words pour forth from your powerful formative life experiences, your deep wisdom, and are mostly inspired by your loving heart. Since you truly leadfromwithin, from your heart, you touch many people daily, more than you might even imagine and in ways that you can never imagine, as only God quietly and gently strings your pearls around those who are in need and ready to take that important step of growth into a fuller awareness of self, a step that is so important in the individual and collective career-life journey we all share. Be well:) EdC

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  2. Garrett O'Brien

    17. May, 2016

    Good points leading to leadership being all about character, solid character…

    One thought to add on trust —

    Some leaders demand trust while others command trust.

    If they are paying attention, those that demand respect find that trust is immediately lost and very difficult to regain — at minimum, most people experience a ‘red flag’ when such demands are put forth and either choose to ignore it or heed their gut feeling.

    Commanding respect is an art that starts with being humble and practicing humility, which means everything has to come from the heart (otherwise sooner or later an agenda will be detected). This honed stature builds a solid base with everyone and they will be willing to do more for such a person as there is no need to be overly protective of themselves in the process.

    Just started following you Lolly, looking forward to reading more of your content!

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  3. Alex

    25. May, 2016

    you could add a follow up to this listing all of the lessons and opportunities born from these failures. A whole series of articles each with a different story and lesson.


    Reply to this comment

    02. Feb, 2017

    Dear Lolly Dsakal,
    I agree more your comment,it’s very important……..thanks

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  5. Denis H. Nixon

    05. Jan, 2019

    Thank you for blogging. Being an executive coach I can identify with all the fail points that you have mentioned.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Andres

    28. Feb, 2020

    Short and sweet. Great post. Isn’t it interesting how trust is always at the top of these lists? But how much time do leaders actually and intentionally spend building trust? It’s not something we think about but when it’s missing we’re in deep trouble. So, how do we build more trust?

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