top of page

5 Signs Your Leadership Skills Are Ineffective

Have you taken the time to take a good hard look at your leadership skills?

At some point in a leader's career, it becomes necessary to look at oneself and how effective you are.

Perhaps you have heard the quote by renowned executive leadership coach and author Marshall Goldsmith that says, "What got you here won't get you there."

There is so much truth to that quote and book title. But unfortunately, many leaders stay trapped in their patterns and comfort zones rather than courageously expanding.

Most clients I meet as a transformational leadership coach are in their darkest hours and face a less than stellar performance review, a relationship crisis on a team, or are they on the brink of burnout and know that something must change?

Or do they know?

The truth is even with compelling evidence of the need for a shift, most focus on external reasons for the lack of success. Essentially, they play the blame game and try to control others using performance management or micro-management.

None of these techniques ever go well and spiral the leader into reactivity.

Reactivity is not a coveted leadership trait, and leaders who understand the value of being proactive and leading from the inside out will be more effective in the long run and be on the path to healthy success.

Success will look different ways for different people; however, if you are doing one or more of these things below, the chances are that you are selling yourself short, and it may be time for an upgrade.

1. You are constantly externally focused

What does it mean to be externally focused? It means that you use the people, the organization, or any other external circumstances for the lack of results.

For example, if you are saying to yourself or others, "If Bob would just perform better, we would be achieving our goals" or "If I had more autonomy in my role, I could do a better job."

A leader who performs at the top of their game does not use external reasons for their lack of results.

External circumstances are considered information that informs a leader to take action. That action will support the mission and vision of the team.

2. There is an underlying tension in your team or workgroup

Leading people is about relationships, and relationships are complex.

Conflicts arise, disagreements occur, and at times personalities and egos clash.

An ineffective leader will allow those things to run amuck.

Unresolved conflict is cancer in a team and must get checked, and it is a leader's responsibility to ensure the energy of the conflict moves healthily.

For example, if a team member is constantly overpowering others at meetings, an effective leader will interject and create space for others to share their ideas and speak.

Influential leaders do not let things go and say, "That is just how it is."

3. More than 50% of your time is spent reactively

Ineffective leaders are reactive and can fit the description of being "All over the map."

Reactivity is not to be confused with flexibility, which is a robust leadership quality.

Reactivity shows up in ways that undermine most leadership values and negatively influence credibility.

Reactive leaders are frequently late for meetings, have difficulty delivering on longer-term goals and lose sight of the vision as they throw band-aid solutions at the problem of the hour.

It is true that leadership, in some ways, will have a reactive component to it, but when it becomes the way of leading, you can be sure your leadership is being ineffective.

4. You don't care or have lost your ability to care

Influential leaders genuinely care about the people they lead, the products or services they provide and the results they get.

To build on that, they also care about themselves and their relationships.

If you don't care and spend most of your time avoiding your responsibilities, it is time to reevaluate your leadership.

Change is part of life, and realizing you don't care is a prime indicator of whether to consider a change.

Simon Sinek says, "If you care, do something. If you don't care, please stay out of the way of those who do."

I couldn't agree more.

5. You feel drained at the end of every day

Ineffective leaders do not know how to regulate their energy.

Ineffective leaders operate in a fearful and anxious state which depletes energy reserves and lowers resilience.

Equally, this dysregulated energy ultimately transfers onto the team.

Influential leaders will intelligently manage their energy and know exactly when to step back and move forward based on the team's ques.

Ineffective leaders make everything a fight or grind when it doesn't need to be that way.

To summarize, leadership is an art form, and genuinely gifted leaders understand that. As a result, they open themselves up to be conduits of the art of leadership and learn how to be better influencers.

Leading this way requires a great deal of courage and commitment. But unfortunately, the dysregulated leader or employee is the norm in many organizations and business environments.

Influential leaders need the support of like-minded peers, coaches, and access to leadership development opportunities. Staying connected and learning advanced leadership skills helps keep you on the path to healthy success.


Dave is a Leadership and Life Coach living in Steveston, B.C., Canada.

Dave's expertise is with individuals and teams who feel stressed out and exhausted and know that they want something different.

In 2017, Dave left a career as a Senior Manager at a large Local Government organization to start Small Pause Coaching & Consulting. His philosophy about taking a pause and inviting in a new conversation, a deeper conversation, has supported hundreds of individuals and organizational clients.

He is a Certified HeartMath® Coach & Mentor, a trained Equine Guided Learning Facilitator and a Certified Coach with the ICF. Dave took his coaches training at the Newfield Network in Boulder, Colorado.

You can learn more about his work at or look him up on LinkedIn, Instagram or Facebook.

Dave also expresses his creativity through the Small Pause Shop, where he designs apparel that supports living life 'inside the pause.'


bottom of page