How to Avoid Being a Terrible Leader

The saying “people don’t leave bad companies they leave bad bosses”, is so true. I am still amazed when I talk to colleagues and work friends, how many have either quit or looking to leave because of their boss. The work conditions are amazing, lots of perks, but their boss is a jerk and it makes going to work all that much harder. Productivity is down as they spend most of their time trying to second guess their bosses intentions, instead of getting on with the job.

Furthermore, Monster, a global online employment company, recently found out that 38% of employees rated their leader as horrible. That’s an extremely high number. Millennials now make up 50% of the workforce and they are quick to vote with their feet. If they aren’t getting what they want from their boss, which is continual learning, challenges and being able to put their opinions across they’ll be out of there. Leaders can’t afford to fall into this 38% if they want highly motivated and productive teams.

So what are the traits of a terrible leader? I came across some research carried out by US Success magazine, who surveyed members of the Young Entrepreneurs Council (and kindly shared by Elizabeth Boyd, Editor in Chief of Excellence in Retail) and they found the following traits of terrible leaders:

  • Lack of transparency – This simply adds up to a lack of trust. If employees can’t trust their leader, they’ll always be second guessing and being careful with what they say. Honesty is critical in building and maintaining relationships.
  • Not listening – The best leaders are the best listeners. Being there to hear your team’s opinions and ideas is also critical to motivation and buy in.
  • Dismissing ideas that aren’t yours – Wow, this is a big one. This attitude results in zero buy-ins from the team and completely destroys creativity, initiative, and motivation.
  • Valuing experience over potential – How many times does this happen? “You’ve got to do your time before you get promoted.” This is old-fashioned thinking and tells newer employees that are ambitious and talented to just leave.
  • Ego – The best leaders swallow their ego and accept they are human and make mistakes. The best leaders accept the blame when things go wrong and pass credit to the appropriate people.
  • Working 24/7 – Modelling that it is important to work long hours, sets the wrong impression and tells the team they should do the same. It’s about modeling balance and being productive.
  • Lack of empathy – Poor leaders just expect their team to work and perform like robots. While great leaders are there to support their team, get to know them and what makes each individual tick.
  • Overlooking leadership development – This is a major turnoff for millennials. They want to learn new skills and the leader needs to help with this process. This applies to all team members, who we need to challenge and grow in their roles.
  • Being overly conservative – Sticking to the way we have always done things and not taking calculated risks is a strategy for mediocrity. Leaders need to encourage innovative thinking and ideas.
  • Permitting negative gossip – Negativity spreads like a virus. Great leaders step in and cut this out from their team or deal with the individual responsible. Great leaders model positivity.
  • Poor communication of strategy – Great leaders share the big picture, the vision, and the WHY. This way team members know how they fit in and how they make a positive contribution.
  • Inconsistency – There is a level of comfort that your team will feel when you are consistent in your actions and words. Inconsistency causes confusion, with your team not knowing how you may respond on any given day.

I hope these traits are helpful and as always, it’s a great checklist to review about yourself and identify areas you need to work on.

Roger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Ultimate Retail Sales Experience” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service, and selling skills.