The Taliban’s recent resurrection in Afghanistan can be easily explained; as soon as they detected weakened leadership they were able to take advantage of it. It’s a clear example of a ‘leadership void’.
Leadership voids can happen in any team, partnership, group, council, country or international environment – at any scale. They happen through will or circumstance; through helpfulness or, most frequently, through malice.
Notice carefully that it’s called a leadership void.
It can happen whether there’s a manager, president or leader in charge or not. As long as there’s no strong leadership.
And herein lies the lesson for managers and leaders at all levels.
Is your leadership strong enough?
Leadership voids are created when there’s either no leadership or ineffective leadership. That doesn’t mean you need to be a feared leader to escape creating a void, just an effective one.
If your leadership weakens then it allows others to fill the void you leave and create groups or silos who either do things you don’t want them to do or actively create an organised opposition.
Will you be toppled?
Leadership takes effort. Not just the effort of being busy with tasks, but effort in all the things that make good leadership; direction, inspiration, engagement, feedback, praise, fairness, community. If that effort isn’t there then the void begins to appear.
An individual or group which dislikes the status quo will then always assume some leadership themselves. They’ll start making decisions and enable others to do things which ‘will be okay’, or that they can get away with.
For weak managers it’s the beginning of the end. For managers learning the ropes of leadership, or the dynamics of their new teams, it’s an opportunity to rise up.
But it’s going to go one way or the other.