What Happens to a Leaderless Team?

What Happens to a Leaderless Team?

What do you do when the boss is out of the office?  Do you look for opportunities to slack off by playing games like this one?

Studies have shown that teams require leadership. But why? What’s so important about having a leader?

What Happens to a Leaderless Team?

To discover exactly why teams require leadership we observed many teams when their leader wasn’t present.  Here are the top five things we discovered:


The best leaders today empower their people to make decisions. However, when the leader isn’t present we found decisions typically don’t get made in a timely manner or at all without a leader. It’s as if the mere presence of the leader in the building or the knowledge that they could help, promoted people to make decisions.


Great leaders are excellent communicators. Without good communication, teams become disorganized, ineffective and disinterested. When a leader isn’t present teams begin to get disorganized. For some teams, they can withstand disorganization for a period of time but eventually, the lack of responsibility takes over unless one of the team members step up.

Ethical Slips

Leaders build the values and behaviors of a team. Without a leader, there isn’t a standard to follow and team integrity eventually erodes. Since integrity is such a critical element of leadership, it makes sense that the values and ream integrity would erode with a leader’s presence.


Great leaders are able to harness everyone’s energy and abilities for the good of the team. Without this, teams break up into small cliques. The challenge is fragmentation can happen with a leader so teams become even more susceptible when a leader isn’t present.

No Vision

Great leaders have a vision of what they want to achieve. When a team is leaderless there isn’t a vision to be pursued or a collective goal to achieve. Often this leaves teams spinning their wheels working on things without a direction to head.

It’s simple, for teams to be efficient and effective they need leaders leading them. Would you want your favorite sports team to head into the season without a coach or the ship you’re on, to set sail without a captain?  Of course not.

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About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company that exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. He is currently booking events and speaking engagements for 2020. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.