In the dynamic landscape of organisational leadership, the importance of selecting leaders based on their ability to lead rather than just their job performance is a recurring theme.

After reading a recent article, Olive Strachan, founder of the Olive Strachan Consultancy, sheds light on this critical issue that has persisted throughout her extensive career. She explores the repercussions of appointing leaders solely based on their job performance, emphasizing the need for organisations to prioritise leadership development.

The Pitfalls of Job Performance – Centric Leadership Selection: One prevalent challenge highlighted by Olive is the tendency of organisations to appoint leaders based on their job performance, overlooking crucial leadership qualities. This approach often leads to a scenario where poor leaders, who may excel in their individual roles, are retained despite displaying signs of ineffectiveness in leading others. Olive identifies key indicators that organisations should heed as warning signs:

  1. High Staff Turnover – Departments experiencing frequent turnover may indicate a leadership problem. Leaders who are not equipped to inspire and guide their teams can contribute to dissatisfaction and a revolving door of personnel.
  2. Increased Sickness and Absenteeism – A rise in sickness and absenteeism levels can be attributed to a negative work environment fostered by inadequate leadership. Employees under ineffective leaders may experience stress, leading to health issues and increased time off.
  3. Interdepartmental Conflict – Unresolved conflicts between staff and across departments can be symptomatic of poor leadership. A leader’s inability to mediate and foster a collaborative work environment can have far-reaching consequences.
  4. Customer Complaints – Internal and external customer complaints can be a red flag. Poor leadership can trickle down to customer interactions, impacting satisfaction and loyalty.
  5. Overall Poor Performance – The most direct consequence of ineffective leadership is a decline in overall organisational performance. A leader’s influence permeates throughout the organisation, affecting productivity and success.


A Case Study: Olive recounts an instance where a board hesitated to address a director’s poor leadership skills due to their significant contribution to sales. This scenario underscores the challenging decisions organisations face when weighing individual contributions against the broader impact of poor leadership on the entire organization.

From Accidental Manager to Effective Leader: Olive shares her personal journey of evolving from an accidental manager to an effective leader. Through dedicated learning, skill development, and invaluable mentoring and coaching, she turned her leadership role around. This personal experience emphasizes the transformative power of investing in leadership development.

The Imperative of Leadership Development: Olive’s resounding message is:

Organisations must never lose sight of the importance of investing in developing their leaders. Leadership development programs, training initiatives, and coaching can bridge the gap between job performance and effective leadership, ensuring that individuals in leadership roles are equipped to inspire, guide, and lead their teams to success.”

As organisations navigate the complex terrain of leadership, Olive stresses the need to reevaluate traditional approaches to leadership selection. By prioritising leadership development, organisations can cultivate a culture of effective leadership, ultimately driving success and longevity in an ever-evolving business landscape.

You can read the full article here