Are These the 7 Key Difference Between Effective and Ineffective Leaders?

In light of my experience and the continuing scandals – NSA/Prism and Lloyds PPI complaint handling – I have been reflecting-grappling with the leadership, accountability, and integrity. As such I wish to share with you my  take on the seven key differences between effective and ineffective leaders.

1. Effective leaders are clear on what matters, communicate what matters, and model the desired values and behaviours. Ineffective leaders are either not clear on what matters or simply not able to able-willing to rule some stuff out. Ineffective leaders suck at communicating what matters. And they don’t live-model-embody the fine sounding values, beliefs, and behaviours that they talk about.

2. Effective leaders name and insist on dealing with the most important issues no matter how unpleasant these issues are. Ineffective leaders find all kinds of reasons and excuses for not dealing with the real issues and instead spend their time on what they are comfortable with.

3. Effective leaders focus on getting a rounded-realistic-fact based picture of reality. And as such they give real thought to who needs to take part in the conversation, and how to create a context that calls forth the ‘truth of each participant’.  Please note that feelings are facts! Ineffective leaders are drunk on their own importance and thus push their views, their agenda, on to the favoured few that they invite to the conversation.

4. Effective leaders deal with the thorny issues in a way that tends to build the self-esteem, confidence, learning, and goodwill of their people. Ineffective leaders issue orders, discount the concerns-views of their people, and make threats thus rupture one of the most critical pillars of an effective organisation: relationship and emotional affinity and loyalty.

5. Effective leaders think about the well-being of the wider system – all stakeholders inside and outside the business.  Ineffective leaders focus on what matters to them and their favoured constituency.

6. Effective leaders first hold themselves accountable. And by doing so they create the powerful access to holding their people accountable. Ineffective leaders hold others to account but not themselves. And sometimes they don’t even hold others accountable for fear of being confronted with their own lack of accountability.

7. Effective leaders get the critical importance of integrity. As such they put in place powerful ‘instruments’ that will: detect any ‘out of integrity’ ways of showing up in the world; and call the effective leader to get back into integrity quickly and clean up any mess s/he has made. Ineffective leaders don’t get that integrity is essential to ‘workability’ and ‘performance’ and as such there is little fit between what they say and what they do.  For ineffective leaders, integrity is optional.

How does this resonate with your experience? Please note the word ‘experience’ and specifically the phrase ‘your experience’.


Author: Maz Iqbal

Experienced management consultant. Passionate about enabling customer-centricity by calling forth the best from those that work in the organisation and the intelligent application of digital technologies. Subject matter expert with regards to customer strategy, customer insight, customer experience (CX), customer relationship management (CRM), and relationship marketing. Working at the intersection of the Customer, the Enterprise (marketing, sales, service), and Technology.

7 thoughts on “Are These the 7 Key Difference Between Effective and Ineffective Leaders?”

    1. Hello James

      That is pithy way of putting it. And, I ask myself, is it as simple as that? Is it possible that great leaders are fuelled by a passion for a cause, a possibility, to make a ‘dent in the universe’?

      And, Steve Jobs puzzles me. From what I have read about him, it occurs to me that Steve did not worry that much about people, nor himself. It occurs to me that he was totally gripped by a mission/purpose.

      All the best,


  1. Hi Maz,
    Whilst I like the type of leader that you describe as an ‘effective leader’ and it is the sort of leader that I would want to be or work with, is there not a danger within the term ‘effective leader’?

    What I mean is….I am sure there are many examples of leaders that are ‘effective’ in what they do and their context but do not conform to the description that you have here.

    Is the sort of leadership that you describe the sort that you want yourself and the world to aspire to? A leadership style that is inclusive, inspiring, sustainable and, yes, effective but is not the only sort of ‘effective’ leadership that can exist?

    Or, am I being a ‘pedant’ on this sunny morning?



    1. Hello Adrian

      Thank you for sharing your perspective and ‘putting me on the spot’ to answer the questions and concerns you raised.

      Ultimately EVERYTHING is groundless. Push any point of view far enough and you find that it is groundless. Take business, we accept that the purpose of a business is to stay out of everything and focus exclusively on maximising shareholder value. What is the ground for this ‘truth’? Take the huge amount of stress that we place on ‘rationality’ and ‘objectivity’. What are the objective grounds for objectivity/rationality?

      So you are absolutely correct to say that I have no grounds for saying what does and does not constitute an ‘effective leader’. I am present to this. Which is why I made sure that I set the appropriate context by stating “my take on the seven key differences between effective and ineffective leaders.”

      Now if we look at leadership differently then it occurs to me that where there is a leader there are followers. So then the acid test of leadership is followership – the greater the number of followers the more effective the leader?

      All the best,


      1. Hi Maz,
        Thanks for taking the time to answer my query. I guess I missed the ‘my take’ bit.

        As for your acid test…….hmmmm. I’m not sure I agree with that either.

        Perhaps, we should arrange to meet and have a chat and thrash it all out in person. What sayeth you?



  2. To help our country quickly resolve the ongoing shutdown…

    …can you share your seven effective leadership steps with our current Administration, Congress, and the Senate.


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