10 Things That Lousy Leaders Do – Part 1 of 2

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by Steve Holt on September 11, 2013

We’ve all been there.  You work for a person who doesn’t understand what leadership is.  Worse yet, you work for a person who doesn’t understand what leadership is but thinks they do.  Leadership is hard, no 2 ways about it.  Some people are born leaders but I believe that most people need to hone their leadership skills and constantly improve them.  So in this part 1 I will offer up to you the first 5 things that lousy leaders do.  Next week I will offer up the final 5 things. Don’t do these things.

1.  Not leading by example – If you are going to require your employees to show up early and stay late, then you need to do that too.  If you expect them to respond quickly to your communications, then you need to do that as well.  If a leader isn’t willing to lead by example for his/her followers, that’s bad.  If you are in a leadership position, everyone is looking at you. And whether you like it or not, that means they follow your example. So what kind of examples are you leaving them with?

2.  Running down employees in front of others –  One time I worked for a person who would talk bad about other employees in front of me. They would tell me what that other employee did wrong and how I would need to watch out for that.  They would also communicate with me to dig dirt up against other employees.  Seriously?  You get the picture.  Don’t do it.

3.  Publicly correcting employees – I have seen way too many leaders who simply don’t know how to properly correct an employee who has done something wrong.  When you correct someone in public, in front of their peers, it is humiliating.  And it builds resentment. If you have to correct someone then you close your door and do it in private.  To do otherwise is simply wrong.

4.  Delegating responsibility without authority – I worked for a person one time who would delegate projects to me, but then would constantly ‘follow up’ with me to make sure that I was doing it exactly as they would have done it.  I couldn’t actually make any decisions or implement anything without first checking with them, so it was as if I wasn’t really working on the project.  This is a control issue, and bad leaders do this all the time.  And honestly, isn’t it really about getting credit for when the project goes good?  Yeah, it is.  (Except for when it goes bad, then skip to #7 next week.)   If that is how you are going to lead, then why don’t you just do everything yourself anyway?

5.  Denying employees opportunities to grow – The only way that employees are going to get better at what they do is to be given the opportunity to do so.  If they are never stretched, they won’t grow.  And that sometimes means giving them the opportunity to fail without the fear of dire consequences.  If you habitually ‘banish’ people who fail at tasks you give them, what do you think others in the organization are going to do when they see you do that?  Exactly.  They won’t ever truly work hard for you because they see what happens to those who fail. Help your employees grow by providing them opportunities to learn, from both successes and failures.

So that’s my first 5 things that lousy leaders do.  Next week I’ll share the next 5 things, which are even worse than these 5 things.  Till then, feel free to share this with that lousy leader you work for.  On second thought, don’t do that.  It could only end up bad for you.  Just find someone else to work for.  Quick.

Part 2 can be found here.

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