Imagine being at the helm of a ship, guiding your crew towards a shared destination. Your leadership is the compass that directs your team through both calm and stormy seas. A skilled and effective leader can inspire their crew, navigate through challenges, and achieve remarkable outcomes. But what if your compass is broken? Many leaders today unknowingly possess broken leadership styles that hinder progress and leave their teams feeling unmotivated and lost. It’s time to repair that compass, recalibrate, and set a new course for success.

Broken leadership can take many forms, from a lack of clear vision to poor communication and an inability to adapt to change. These issues not only hamper your ability to lead effectively but also impact the overall performance and morale of your team. The good news is that no matter how broken your leadership compass may be, it can be fixed. You can transform your leadership style and become the inspiring captain your crew deserves.

In this article, we will dive into the signs of broken leadership, outlining common pitfalls that even the best-intentioned leaders may encounter. We will then provide actionable steps and proven strategies to repair your leadership compass, fostering an environment of trust, open communication, and innovation. Along the way, we will draw insights from real-life success stories of leaders who turned their broken leadership styles around and achieved remarkable results. Additionally, we will share valuable tools, resources, and recommended reading materials to support your ongoing leadership development journey. 

It’s time to roll up your sleeves, address the cracks, and rebuild your leadership to inspire and empower those around you. So, hoist the sails, and let’s begin the journey to mend your broken leadership!


Identifying the Cracks: Signs of Broken Leadership


Effective leadership is built on a strong foundation, but cracks can appear that undermine the trust and effectiveness of leaders. To address these issues, it’s essential to first recognize what in your leadership is broken. 

Below are some common cracks that can hinder your ability to lead effectively:

A lack of clear vision and direction. Without a clear roadmap, teams may feel lost or uncertain about their purpose and goals. Leaders must articulate a compelling vision that inspires and provides a sense of direction for their team.

Poor communication and listening skills. When leaders struggle to convey information clearly or fail to actively listen to their team members, misunderstandings and misalignment can occur. Effective leaders foster open lines of communication, actively seek feedback, and ensure that information flows freely within the organization.

Ineffective delegation and micromanagement. Leaders who struggle to delegate tasks appropriately may become overwhelmed, leading to burnout and reduced productivity. Conversely, micromanagement erodes trust and stifles the growth and autonomy of team members. Healthy delegation involves assigning tasks, empowering others, and providing guidance when necessary.

Lack of trust and transparency. When leaders withhold information, avoid taking responsibility for mistakes, or fail to build trust with their team, it creates an atmosphere of doubt and disengagement. Trust and transparency are crucial for fostering collaboration, innovation, and a positive work environment.

Take a moment to reflect on these signs of broken leadership, what you’re doing, and how you might do it differently moving forward:  

  • Are you providing a clear vision and direction for your team? 
  • How well do you communicate and actively listen to your team members? 
  • Are you delegating effectively or falling into the trap of micromanagement?
  •  Do you prioritize building trust and transparency within your organization? 


Rebuilding the Foundation: Strategies for Effective Leadership


Now that we’ve identified the cracks in your leadership, it’s time to grab the tools and start fixing things up. Think of yourself as a leader with a hard hat and a toolkit, ready to renovate your leadership style. 

Not surprisingly, many of the strategies to rebuild a strong leadership foundation are the opposite of what is causing the cracks. They include: 

  1. Define a compelling vision and set clear goals.
  2. Enhance your communication and active listening skills. 
  3. Delegate effectively and empower your team members. 
  4. Cultivate trust and foster transparency within your organization. 
  5. Embrace change and encourage a culture of innovation.

To further strengthen your leadership and support your journey towards becoming a more effective leader, here are five valuable books that can enhance your understanding and implementation of the strategies mentioned above:

The 5 Levels of Leadership” by John C. Maxwell

Good to Great” by Jim Collins

The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg

Start with Why” by Simon Sinek

Radical Candor” by Kim Scott


Case Studies: Success Stories of Leadership Transformation


You may resonate with the information you just read, but until you can see how other leaders are actually living in this new way, you may not be able to see yourself in this new vision. To that end, here are real-life examples of leaders who identified and fixed their broken leadership styles and the impact their transformed leadership had on their organizations:

Alan Mulally, Ford Motor Company

Alan Mulally, who assumed the role of CEO at Ford in 2006 during a critical period for the company, faced significant challenges. Recognizing the presence of a fear-based culture and lack of transparency, Mulally swiftly took action. He introduced the “One Ford” plan, centered around a unified vision, improved communication, and enhanced collaboration among various divisions within the company. Notably, Mulally spearheaded weekly Business Plan Review (BPR) meetings that fostered open communication and encouraged collective problem-solving. As a result, Ford became the sole major US automaker that did not require a government bailout amidst the 2008 financial crisis. Under Mulally’s leadership, the company achieved a remarkable turnaround, returning to profitability and securing a bright future.

Satya Nadella, Microsoft

In 2014, Satya Nadella assumed the role of CEO at Microsoft, stepping into a challenging situation characterized by a stagnant culture and declining market share. Nadella wasted no time in implementing a transformative shift. He redirected the company’s focus, fostering a culture of learning by transitioning from a “know-it-all” to a “learn-it-all” mindset. This new approach placed importance on empathy, collaboration, and continuous learning within the organization. Additionally, Nadella prioritized innovation and forged partnerships with former rivals like Apple and Google. As a result of his strategic vision and leadership, Microsoft experienced a remarkable resurgence. The company’s market value surged by over $250 billion, reclaiming its position as a leading tech innovator in the industry.

Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo

Indra Nooyi, who served as the CEO of PepsiCo from 2006 to 2018, recognized the necessity for the company to adapt to evolving consumer preferences and prioritize healthier product offerings. In response, she introduced the “Performance with Purpose” initiative, which sought to enhance the nutritional value of PepsiCo’s products, minimize the company’s environmental footprint, and empower employees. Nooyi fostered a culture of innovation, encouraging her team to think with a long-term perspective, even if it meant sacrificing short-term gains. As a result of her strategic leadership, PepsiCo experienced remarkable growth. The company’s revenue surged by over 80%, and its market capitalization soared by an impressive $60 billion, underscoring the successful impact of Nooyi’s transformative approach.

What can you take away from these leaders? Here are the key insights: 

Key #1: Emphasize open communication and transparency: Alan Mulally’s weekly BPR meetings at Ford encouraged honest discussions and problem-solving, fostering a culture of trust and collaboration.

Key #2: Adopt a growth mindset: Satya Nadella’s shift to a “learn-it-all” culture at Microsoft enabled the company to embrace innovation and regain its position as a leading tech giant.

Key #3: Be adaptable and forward-thinking: Indra Nooyi’s focus on healthier products and long-term thinking at PepsiCo allowed the company to evolve and thrive in a rapidly changing market.




The significance of strong leadership in driving organizational success cannot be overstated. As we have explored the cracks and strategies for rebuilding a solid leadership foundation, it becomes evident that effective leadership is pivotal for inspiring and guiding teams towards remarkable outcomes.

Now is the time to reflect on your own leadership style. Take a moment to honestly assess your strengths and weaknesses, identifying areas for improvement. Embrace a growth mindset and be open to feedback and self-reflection.

With this newfound awareness, I encourage you to take action. Rebuild and strengthen your leadership foundations. Implement the strategies we have discussed, whether it’s defining a compelling vision, enhancing communication, empowering your team, fostering trust, or embracing change and innovation.

Remember, leadership is not static; it requires continuous learning, adaptation, and improvement. Commit yourself to becoming the best leader you can be, not only for your own growth but also for the success and well-being of those you lead. By investing in your leadership development, you pave the way for a brighter future, driving your organization towards greater achievements. So, let us embark on this journey together, creating a positive impact through strong, effective, and inspiring leadership.


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Dr. Sharon Grossman, AKA the Burnout Doc, is a clinically trained psychologist and subject matter expert in burnout and mental health. Associations and Fortune 500 companies hire her to be their closing keynote speaker, to help their members and executives crack the code on burnout, and create custom-tailored solutions for recovery.
Over the past 20 years, Dr. Sharon has been helping high achievers who are struggling with anxiety, overwhelm, and burnout go from exhausted to extraordinary by better understanding how their brain works and how they can design and run their programming on purpose to live the kind of life they want to live. She is the author of several books on burnout and mindset and host of the Decode Your Burnout podcast. Through her speaking, training, and coaching, she helps organizations keep their top talent.