Organizations emit warning signs before breaking down, but the financial signals, such as revenue declines, shrinking margins, and deteriorating working capital ratios, are lagging indicators. Leading indicators are much more important because you can address them before the financials go south. Using our triple-crown framework, here are 20 indicators of organizational breakdowns:
- Focusing too much on strategy shifts instead of accountability for results
- Creeping complacency
- Cutting ethical corners when the pressure is on
- Not building ethics into day-to-day processes and decisions
- Falling prey to short-termism
- Neglecting integrity, cultural fit, and emotional intelligence in talent selection and promotions
- Failing to invest adequately in developing leaders with character
- Not seeking input from everybody in the organization regarding purpose, values, vision
- Failing to inculcate values into daily decisions
- Leaders staying in their comfort zones and not flexing between the hard and soft edges of leadership
- Excessively tight controls
- Leaders being too soft because they want to be liked
- Excessive deference to the top authorities
- Leaders assuming they must make all the decisions and have all the answers
- Failing to unleash other leaders throughout the organization
- Reluctance to challenge authority
- Constantly changing priorities
- Poor communication and secrecy with people operating in silos
- Insufficient understanding of how efforts across the enterprise fit together
- Lack of discipline and follow-through
Triple crown leadership sometimes entails constructively challenging people to do what they think is impossible. Often they produce astonishing results.
When the challenge is to make the numbers short- and long-term, and to do it ethically, while operating sustainably and honoring obligations to all stakeholders, that is when people really dig in and find a better way, a new way, and refuse to settle for the easy way out.
Triple crown leaders find a better way.
• Evaluate your organization or team using the 20 indicators above.
• If you answer 4 or more with negative responses, your organization is headed for a breakdown. It is time to implement the five practices of triple crown leadership.
Bob and Gregg Vanourek, father and son, are co-authors of Triple Crown Leadership: Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations, an International Book Awards winner. To get Gregg’s manifesto on Leadership Derailers (and how to avoid them) and free book chapters from Gregg’s books, including Triple Crown Leadership, check out his Free Guide.