Exponential Impact

employee retention executive impact leadership leadership culture management profit profitability profitability killers retention return on investment supervision top down top down approach Mar 01, 2023
top down approach

The author of the Forbes article I referenced before continued supporting the idea that It All Starts at the Top by citing a Gallup’s “State of the American Manager” report in sharing that “one in two employees has quit their job because of a bad boss at some point in their career. Seventy percent are thinking about and/or actively looking for a new job due to a lack of support and recognition.” John Maxwell made a similar point in Leadership Gold by saying that “Some sources estimate that as many as 65% of people leaving companies do so because of their managers… The ‘company’ doesn’t do anything negative to them. People do. Sometimes coworkers cause the problems that prompt people to leave. But often the people who alienate employees are their direct supervisors.”

While each of those statements point to retention, something we’ll unpack in quite a bit of detail soon, they should serve as an eye-opener to the overall effects of poor leadership throughout an organization! An article I found called 6 Ways Poor Leadership Impacts Your Business makes this statement early on, “poor leadership is a huge liability. The actions of a poor leader lead not only to missed targets, but can destroy the entire culture of a company.” The author goes on to share the following FIVE ways (yes, you read that right… FIVE) you can see poor leadership impacting your business:

  1. Loss of motivation to work
  2. Poor sales performance
  3. Lack of ownership and transparency
  4. Mismanaged resources
  5. Poor work culture

For what it’s worth, I went through that article multiple times trying to find their sixth way but the only reference I saw was in the title. Here nor there, I suppose…

What I did pull from going through these points several times was that each of them have a real financial impact on an organization. Unfortunately, each can be difficult to quantify and even when they are, the proverbial finger is nearly always pointed to some cause other than leadership. As I’ve said before, it’s so much easier to place blame on a thing than it is to do that pesky thing called accepting personal responsibility!

For now, the case I want to make with you isn’t tied to any one of those things, or even any of the ones we break down into detail later on, but more about how poor leadership at the top of the organization in any one of those areas can set the tone for what occurs at every other level. The trickle-down effect can make a small issue at the executive level exponentially more costly by the time it impacts a frontline employee. If nothing else, the numbers are so much greater - but even the smallest issues tend to grow as they’re passed on from one level to the next within the company.

What I want you to consider right now is how much direct and ongoing attention did any of those five things listed above need under the best leader you’ve ever worked with? Now how about with the worst? I doubt your answers are very different from mine… 

A simplified translation of Luke 16:10 says “Whoever can be trusted with small things can also be trusted with big things.” When it comes to top down leadership and how those high risk areas can kill our profitability, we’re rarely dealing with small things at that point. That said, I believe the things we - as executive leaders in our organizations - will need to do to address any of those issues are much simpler than we often believe they are, so we’ll pick up there next time!