The Main Reason Why the Team You Lead is not Effective

Introduction: What is Leadership

Leadership embodies the activities involved in influencing an individual or team to carry out various tasks to achieve a particular goal. Because of the responsibility leaders have to ensure that organizational goals are met, leaders have the ability to make or break a company. Therefore, it is important that persons entrusted with leadership roles demonstrate that they are equipped with the skills of effective leadership in order to positively impact organizational outcomes.

Mccauley and Palus (2020), purports a relational view of leadership which describes leadership as an emergent property of interactions among people working together. Additionally, Turner and Baker (2017) define leadership as a dyadic relationship between the leaders and follower as well as a multifunctional phenomenon while taking place in a complex dynamic. As leadership has the potential to greatly influence organizational outcomes, careful consideration should always be taken when identifying leaders. Research has shown that the leader’s personality traits, cognitive abilities, and skills as well as level of emotional intelligence influence leadership styles and the effectiveness of teams being led. This article will describe what is Leadership, what are the characteristics of a good leader, and explain the main reason why the team you lead is not effective. Finally, recommendations will be made of various leadership styles proven to be effective to enhance team performance and overall organizational growth.

Characteristics of a good leader

Effective leadership has been shown to depend on characteristics of the group and its environment as well as those of the leader (Leadership: Research Starters Topic, 2018).  Some characteristics of an effective leader include integrity, ability to delegate, communication, self-awareness, gratitude, learning agility, influence, empathy, courage, and respect (Center for Creative Leadership, 2021).  Additionally, leadership skillsets include critical reflection, self-development, time management, building trust, inspiring others, developing teams, strategic thinking, openness, adaptability, and feedback-seeking behavior (Church, 2014 & Turner & Baker, 2017). Research also shows that high performing leaders are distinguished by a high degree of emotional intelligence (Performance Consultants). Therefore, due to the complexities involved in the interactions between an individual who leads and a group, when examining the characteristics of a good leader, a broad range behaviors and skillsets must be considered.

The Main Reason Why the Team You lead is Not Effective: Dysfunctional Leadership

Leadership plays a very important role in the success and well-being of teams and organizations. According to research, the dysfunctional leader has been identified as the main reason why many teams are ineffective.  Warrick (2019) provides several examples of a toxic or dysfunctional leader. One example of a toxic leader is one who makes decisions on his/her own or only among top management then sends them down to the subordinates who are expected to implement the decisions without taking any time to listen to those on the front lines, closest to the issues being addressed. This leader is certain his/her decisions are just what the organization needs. Also, there is the all-too-common scenario where there is the leader who believes he/she is an excellent and beloved leader. However, the reality is the opposite. Team members see the leader as an arrogant, know-it all leader with a big ego and little awareness of what is going on or how he/she is perceived.

Some of the causes of these types of leadership dysfunctions include personality traits, distorted thinking, destructive patterns of behavior or a combination of these. Also, dysfunctional leadership can lead to an environment that has a culture of fear and intimidation to reach extreme goals at all costs (Ochs 2016). This can affect the self-esteem of individuals in the workplace as well as team innovation and motivation resulting in high turnover, a revolving door of talent and ultimately overall organizational goals being unattained.

Effective Leadership Styles to Enhance Team Performance

Leadership styles guide the day-to -day thinking patterns and behaviors of leaders. The style a leader employs determine the way he or she place emphasis on production and concern for the people they lead (Northouse, 2022).  Three leadership styles that have proven to be effective to enhance team performance and overall organizational growth are The Social Identity Leadership Perspective, Fostering Creativity and Innovation in Teams and Shared Leadership.

The social identity leadership perspective is considered a key concept in effective leadership and centered around the concept of ‘we’ and not ‘I’. Organizational goals are meet more effectively as leaders and followers come to see each other as part of a common group or team, specifically as members of the same in-group (Cummins & O’Boyle, 2014).

Another leadership perspective to enhance team performance and positive organizational outcomes involve fostering creativity and innovation in teams. According to Hughes et al. (2018), creativity and innovation in teams are the process, outcomes, and products of attempts to develop and introduce new and improved ways of doing things. The creativity stage of this process refers to idea generation, and innovation refers to the subsequent stage of implementing ideas toward better procedures, practices, or products.

Examples of creativity in teams include when a creative leader opens a meeting with a personal or otherwise novel touch or use a different kind of thinking to develop different kinds of solutions (Ware 2020).  Examples of innovation in teams include working in a different place, changing your meeting style, staying up to date with industry trends, and promoting collaboration (Indeed Editorial Team, 2021).

The quality of team leadership can also be boosted by the process of shared leadership. Shared leadership is the process whereby a team shares a sense of purpose and responsibility for the overall leadership of the company. Organizations today are drawn to shared leadership because of the need to cultivate a pipeline of future leadership that is important to the long-term success of the company as well as to provide an opportunity for multiple perspectives to be harnessed to understand what an event means and decide what to do (Fitzsimons, 2016).

Shared leadership, also known as distributed leadership, involves the sharing of influence by team members and allow faster responses to more complex issues. Teams with shared leadership have less conflict, more consensus, more trust, and more cohesion, than teams that do not have shared leadership (Northouse, 2022). Some cons of shared leadership though, are that it threatens to undermine an important source of recognition in the workplace and when transitioning to shared leadership, it is important to be mindful of what belongs in one-on-one conversations and what should be dealt with by everyone (Fitzsimons, 2016).


 Northouse (2022) defines leadership as a process whereby an individual influences a group or a team to achieve a common goal. Therefore, the leader of any group or organization can potentially make or break the organization.  As leadership is about shaping beliefs, desires, and priorities to ultimately achieve influence instead of securing compliance and is always involved in harnessing the energies and passions of others (Cummins & O’Boyle, 2014), it is imperative, that leaders take the necessary steps to develop effective leadership skills to be able to positively influence followers, lead effective teams and achieve organizational goals.


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Cummins, P. G., & O’Boyle, I. (2014). Leading through others: Social identity theory in the organizational setting. Organization Development Journal, 32 (3), 27 – 39

Fitzsimons, D. (2016). How Shared Leadership Changes Our Relationships at Work. Harvard Business Review Digital Articles, 2–5.

Hughes, D. J., Lee, A., Wei Tian, A., Newman, A., & Legood, A. (2018).

Indeed, Editorial Team. (2021). How to encourage innovation in the workplace (with examples and tips). Retrieved from,large%20accounting%20firm%20that%20operates%20on%20billable%20hours

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McCauley, C. & Palus, C. J. (2020). Developing the theory and practice of leadership development: A relational view. The Leadership Quarterly.

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Ochs, S. M. (2016). The leadership blind spots at Wells Fargo, Harvard Business Review. Digital Articles, 2-5.

Ones, D. S., Anderson, N., Viswesvaran, C., & Sinangal, H.K. (Eds.). (2018). The SAGE handbook of industrial, work & organizational psychology (2nd edition., vol 2). London, UK: Sage

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Turner, J., & Baker, R. (2017). Pedagogy, Leadership, and Leadership Development. Performance Improvement. 56. 5-11. 10.1002/pfi.21734.

Ware, S. (2020). Six examples of creativity at work. Published in Creative Business. Retrieved from

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Coaching Leaders. ODD Practitioner, 51(2), 6 – 13


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