Great teams don't make up for mediocre leadership

    t doesn’t matter how many superstars exist in your organization, a mediocre leaders allow the worst human instincts to take root in your company. They set mediocre frameworks and mediocre cultures that squeeze the air out of your superstars and cause them to spend energy on self-preservation instead of the company. In the end, they’ll probably leave to your competitors.

    Mediocre leadership can manifest in various ways but the common themes are as follows:

    Mediocre leaders suffer from a lack of vision. They see your company as another job, another tick on the CV. Their ambitions are finite (achieve short-term goals then move on) and create an element of short-terminism which directly clashes with your stars who want to be at a company that they believe in.

    Mediocre leaders tend to struggle with conveying information transparently and promptly, leading to misunderstandings and misaligned expectations. High performers require open channels of communication to stay informed, share ideas, and collaborate with their peers. When communication is stifled or ineffective, these employees may feel undervalued and unheard, even though ‘hearing them’ is beneficial for the company.

    You may see mediocrity form because the leader hasn’t fully transitioned from doer to delegator manifesting as a constant need to control and monitor employees' work. High performers will by definition do a good job. They prefer trust and autonomy and if given, will propel companies to new heights. When they are micromanaged, their creativity and ability to innovate are stifled. This frustration with a lack of autonomy can lead high performers to seek out organizations that offer greater freedom and trust in their abilities.

    Constructive feedback is essential for growth, but constructive feedback is uncomfortable to give (and in some cases politically dangerous). Weak leaders will have little to no structure around their continuous performance management which makes it almost impossible to hold anyone to account. As a result, underperformers get a free pass which causes outperformers to become disillusioned.

    Mediocre leaders may demonstrate poor judgment or struggle with decision-making. They may not fully understand what’s driving the business or adopt strategies to maximise their personal payoffs at the expense of all other stakeholders. When high performers observe their leader's inability to make sound decisions or solve problems effectively, they may lose faith in the organization's direction and seek out opportunities where they can work under more competent leadership.

    Mediocre leaders often lack the skills or willingness to address underperformance within their teams - this can manifest in a general dislike of confrontation or come from the fact that they aren’t holding their teams accountable. This tolerance for underperformance can create frustration for high performers, who are likely to feel held back by their underperforming peers.

    Conversely, Great leaders set great frameworks and great cultures which make mediocre people perform better than anywhere else. They galvanize your superstars who in turn contribute to an even stronger culture.

    It doesn’t matter how many superstars you have if you have mediocre leaders so make sure you build from the top and you build properly.