Understanding Dysfunctional Leadership and its Impact

Author: Saranya Krishnan
Last Updated: Nov 23, 2022 05:53
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What is Dysfunctional leadership? And the impact of Dysfunctional leadership on the organization

The dysfunction refers to “unhealthy interpersonal behaviour or unhealthy interaction within a group”. 

Confronting a leader who exhibits behaviours that lead to unfavourable results can be awkward, but the results of dysfunctional leadership are obvious. Addressing leadership dysfunction is frequently postponed until it is absolutely necessary to do so. Instead of directly addressing the leader doing poorly as a result of these behaviours, it seems easier to address the symptoms of these behaviours.

The mindsets that leaders have are the primary determinant between effective and dysfunctional leaders.

There are four mindsets that drive dysfunctional leaders.

Fixed Mindset - The leaders in this situation don't think they can develop or change. They are aware of the need for approval and the need to avoid failure. This is due to the fact that their brain forces them to prioritise being viewed as someone with ability; otherwise, if they fail, it would imply that they are a failure. This occurs if they do not believe they can enhance their abilities. As a result, a leader with a fixed mindset always values and prioritises looking nice.

Closed Mindset - When leaders adopt a Closed mindset, they isolate themselves from the opinions and advice of others and assume their own superiority. A leader with a closed mindset always seeks out and values being correct.

Preventive Mindset - When leaders adopt a preventive attitude, they are concerned with avoiding failure. They want to stay clear of issues.

Inward Mindset - These leaders treat the people they are in charge of as things. Naturally, they believe that they are more significant than other people. They always desire and give top priority to acting in their own best interests. Instead of sharing credit, they prefer to claim it. But on a deeper level, when leaders have an inward perspective and things go wrong, they automatically look out for their own safety before looking out for the safety of others.

The 5 Dysfunctions

Dysfunctional Team - They consist of people with a variety of interests, talents, and flaws. If the team's leader lacks the expertise to recognise this and address it, the team degenerates into disorder.

As a result, the following dysfunctions could occur;

Absence of Trust - Teams lacking trust hide their flaws and failures are reluctant to ask for assistance, assume the worst about one another, harbour resentments, and dread meetings.

Fear of Conflict – A lack of trust is the root cause of conflict anxiety. Problem-solving is less important to employees at these companies than personal risk management and politics. Meetings are frequently dull because contentious topics are avoided.

Lack of Commitment - Teams that stay out of disputes develop concerns of failing. These teams have trouble making decisions and frequently second-guess their own actions.

Avoidance of Accountability - Second-guessing and a lack of shared goals, therefore, prevent performance standards from being created. Team members produce subpar work and miss deadlines.

Inattention to results - Teams that lack direction and defined goals experience team member stagnation, disengagement, and self-centeredness.


Recognising Dysfunctional Leadership

Unmotivated Employees - can have a wide range of causes. As long as they are kept in check and don't spread to other members of the organisation, there will always be a few outliers. Lack of vision and unclear direction are further contributing factors. If nothing exciting is coming up, they will look elsewhere. There must be a lot of "why are we here?" questions. The first step in creating momentum, uplifting energy, and employee empowerment is leadership.

Disengaged Employees - are the workers who have "checked out" mentally and emotionally. Employees who have consistently had their issues neglected, overlooked, and unheard will start to feel unheard. When employees feel ignored and undervalued, they will stop working. People are employed. People want to feel understood and supported since they are emotional creatures, and they also want to be present and comprehend their leader.

High Employee Turnover - Employees change jobs frequently. Any organisation experiences that regularly. But when a large number of employees are all set to leave at once, it's important to pay attention and look for the other fruit.

Lack of Cohesiveness - The adage "there's no I in team" is well known, but what holds the team together? The bond that holds high-performing teams together doesn't exist when there is no vision, mission, or purpose, no limits are established, or when there is no shared values system. This encourages personal agendas among the team members.

Disconnected Relationships - A leader will come across as lacking empathy and understanding if they are unable to emotionally connect with their teams and clients. To lead effectively, you need to be vulnerable. Leaders need to relate to their employees on a human level. It's acceptable to be human and still be a good leader.

Current organisational cultures and leadership approaches are no longer viable as modern working practices alter how people view and experience their jobs. The greatest organisations identify new drivers inside the new working environment to foster cultural connection and create human leaders by viewing hybrid work as an opportunity rather than a disruption.

  • Recognize that hybrid work is an opportunity to strengthen organisational culture and leadership success rather than posing a threat to them.

  • Encourage people to engage with your culture in deeper and more meaningful ways by giving them opportunities to do so both emotionally and via their regular jobs and activities.

  • Make sure leaders manage people and work in a more human (genuine, empathic, and adaptive) way.

The volatility in social and political life, the blurring of work and personal life, and the rise of hybrid work have forced today's leaders to face new challenges. Additionally, the interaction between a leader and their team has changed, and employees now anticipate more human behaviour from their bosses. Employees are speaking up more frequently about the flexibility, power, and autonomy they want in the workplace. With the tightest labour market in a generation, there is little tolerance for error and employees today want more sincerity, empathy, and flexibility from their leaders. Leaders are now ill-prepared to deal with the situation; only 35% of HR leaders and 49% of employees believe that their organization's leaders have the skills necessary to succeed in the future.

Organizations need to give their leaders the tools they need to run more humanely for the benefit of both the company and the workforce. Human leaders increase employee engagement, productivity, and well-being while decreasing employee turnover. Unfortunately, there aren't many people who can lead. What then has to be changed? How can businesses develop more human leaders? By recognising that leaders are also people, and by removing the emotional obstacles standing in their way.

Leaders who are ineffective at leading people are three primary types: uncertain strives, terrified believers, and doubtful achievers.

In a hybrid world, relationships with other people are essential for maintaining our mental health, our sense of inclusion, and the culture and engagement of an organisation. Being deliberate about how, where, and when we work will be more important than ever to uphold and grow our corporate culture as we transition toward a new norm.

Our discussions about the future of work ought to centre on people, how we value their health and safety, how we enhance their well-being, and how we can offer a secure and adaptable workplace that promotes productivity, engagement, and overall well-being.

Leaders today have a fantastic opportunity to create a hybrid business model that works best for their organisations. However, relationships between leaders and their teams will be crucial to preserving a cohesive culture that endures the shift. These are some steps that leaders can take to encourage connection and culture in a hybrid workplace.

When employees experience a feeling of shared purpose and belonging, businesses prosper and expand. When workers believe they aren't being treated fairly, this is easily lost. Every member of a hybrid team should feel like they are represented when working together. According to one of our research studies from last year, 80% of millennials and Gen Z feel less connected to their colleagues and leaders as a result of working remotely, which suggests that remote teams may find it difficult to connect and engage in the same way that face-to-face teams do. To prevent this, leaders must rely on more inspirational leadership styles that make up for the loss of interpersonal contacts and social interactions.

In conclusion:

Leaders have an impact on an organization's health. Great leaders take responsibility. The actions of an organization's leaders have an impact on the behaviours of its workers. Leaders that are successful, compelling, and resonant are deliberate about the results they produce. A lack of self-awareness will make it more difficult for a leader to identify the results of dysfunctional leadership.

To reduce risk, organisations must proactively engage in the growth of their leaders and teams before expensive occurrences. Leadership development ought to be equally crucial to your organisation as having a great and flourishing business. A team is only as strong as its leadership, as the saying goes.

At Job Booster, we have leaders who have formulated the perfect balance between leading the team and letting us grow on our own. They let us work out any issues that arise in the team without any higher influence. This helps us to work out our differences in a cordial and cooperative way, but more importantly, it helps us grow in the professional environment in the right way.

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