People Leave Great Companies Because of Poor Leadership

Alex Pollock
March 13, 2020
Effective Leadership and Team Appreciation
People who join great companies leave because of poor leadership. We have verified this ourselves or know someone who has. The essential relationship between Leaders and Followers has been researched extensively by Barbara Kellerman1. In essence, the measure of an effective Leader is the presence or absence of willing Followers. Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall2 suggest that the following eight questions are a valid measure of a Leader's effectiveness. They advocate that Leaders don't need to have the same qualities or competencies but they must be held accountable for creating the same feelings of willing Followership in their organizations. These questions have their roots in the findings of the Gallup Organization released in 1999, with the research having been re-verified on numerous occasions since3.
  1. I am really enthusiastic about the mission of my company.
  2. At work, I clearly understand what's expected of me.
  3. In my team, I am surrounded by people who share my values.
  4. I have the chance to use my strengths every day at work.
  5. My teammates have my back.
  6. I know I will be recognized for excellent work.
  7. I have confidence in my company's future.
  8. In my work, I am always challenged to grow.
What, then, do Followers want from their Leaders? Quite simply, that they make us feel part of something important and meaningful... they see us, connect to us, care about us, challenge us in ways that value our individuality and uniqueness. We all have a special place in our hearts for those who make our journey more meaningful and more hopeful.

Barbara Kellerman4 reminds us that "we all long for leaders whose primary purpose is our best interest — not theirs. Leadership is not a profession. Nor is it, or ought to be, a stepping stone to, say, money or power or authority or even influence. Rather, it is a mission."

We are all Leaders or Followers at sometime or another. Wherever we find ourselves, may we contribute joyously to a cause bigger than ourselves.

  1. "Bad Leadership: What It Is, How It Happens, Why It Matters", 2004; "Followership: How Followers Are Creating Change and Changing Leaders", 2008; and "The End of Leadership", 2012.
  2. "Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader's Guide to the Real World", 2019
  3. "First, Break All The Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently", 1999
  4. "Hard Times: Leadership in America", 2014

About the Author

Alex Pollock
Alex Pollock has been studying leadership effectiveness for more than 30 years. A former leader in environment, health and safety, and public affairs at The Dow Chemical Co., he learned that we all have leadership roles to play. He enjoys discussing new ideas and sharing practical ways we can all become better leaders.

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