I started working with five new coaching clients last week. Two of these five individuals hate their boss! I left these meetings feeling really sad and frustrated. I have said for years that being a leader is a huge responsibility. As a leader, you make or break the experience that your direct reports have at work. So, what’s going on out there? Why do so many people feel unsupported by their managers?
The truth is that many of these “bad bosses” lack self-awareness. They have no idea that their bad behaviour is causing people an inordinate amount of stress. In fact, one of these new coaching clients started seeing a therapist to help him manage the antics of his terrible boss.
I started thinking about the similar characteristics of these “bad bosses”. Here are the top three common issues that I have noticed:
- Micromanagement: People need to feel like they are making a contribution to their team. When a leader micromanages, it makes it harder for others to feel like they have the autonomy necessary to do their best work. One of my clients, a really bright, hard-working individual, feels stifled by his boss as she will not let him make any decisions autonomously. For someone at the Director level in an organization, he is feeling disempowered and will likely quit his job.
- Rudeness. Treating others respectfully is a core job requirement for all leaders. This means that leaders treat people kindly at all levels of the organization. Anything else is not acceptable. One of my clients, in sales, told me about a meeting she recently attended. Unfortunately her team did not meet their sales numbers for the quarter. Instead of debriefing on what went wrong and developing an action plan in this meeting, her “bad boss” yelled at everyone. This leader should have been motiving the team to keep focused. Conversely, the team felt deflated and unmotivated. I predict that this team will have poor performance again next quarter. What do you think?
- Old School Leadership: What worked in the past, does not work today. Autocratic leaders are a thing of the past. People today want leaders who are caring, authentic and who help them to grow and develop. One of my clients complained that her old school boss did not give her a bonus for two reasons. Firstly, because she does not wear a suit to work every day. Secondly, because she sits with her team at lunch. My jaw nearly dropped when I heard this story. What happened to “business appropriate” as a dress code? Even PWC announced last week that their staff can wear jeans five days a week if appropriate. What’s wrong with building close ties to your team by eating lunch and chatting together? In my opinion, I would give someone their full bonus JUST for that behaviour.
Being a “bad boss” does not equal good results. Rather, there is a direct correlation between nasty managers and poor performance.
To inspire great results as a leader, you have to start by developing self- awareness. You need to be really conscious of your behaviour and the impact it is having on people. Kindness and respect goes a lot further than micromanagement, rudeness and old school leadership!