Red Flag Alert: How Not to Be a Terrible Leader
In an ideal world, all leaders would possess the qualities that create an environment in which employees and team members are encouraged to grow and develop, reach goals, and contribute to building a thriving organization. Unfortunately, our world is far from picture-perfect, and naturally, flawless leadership is a myth. Those in leadership are human, after all, and are by no means perfect.
In any situation where strong leadership is required, there will be those who have authority but are pretty lousy at meeting the needs of the team. These leaders often exhibit traits that are less than desirable and can lead to a hostile work environment, dissatisfied team members, and lack of overall success.
Below are 15 common characteristics of ineffective leaders. If you recognize any of these poor habits in yourself, do what you can to correct them immediately. If your organization has leaders who fail to understand the following concepts, you may want to consider developing them or exiting them.
Does Not Value Transparency
When transparency is honored you create an environment of problem-solving, camaraderie, and high trust. If you’re open and honest with your team, they are much more likely to be transparent and trusting of you.
Refuses to Listen
Not listening to your employees is a sign of a poor leader. There must be respect on all levels. Good leaders hear what their staff and co-workers are saying and learn to read the signs of what they are not saying.
Discounts the Ideas of Others
A big part of leadership is coaching your team to success. The ideas and creative input of your team members must be recognized and appreciated. If you don’t encourage their contribution by applauding their thoughts and efforts your employees will stop sharing their ideas with you. Feeling appreciated occurs when employees are aware that they add value to the company.
Doesn’t Focus on Potential
Experience counts for a lot, but those who have potential are also valuable to the success of your business. There’s often an enthusiasm in an employee who isn’t as seasoned as your more experienced team members that can’t be matched. Their excitement about your organization and eagerness to succeed is a resource that should definitely be tapped.
It’s All About Them
An effective leader understands the concept of service over self. This has been demonstrated throughout history again and again.
Lacks Respect for Boundaries
Gone are the days of 9 to 5 in most areas of the country. Weekends aren’t always spent at family barbecues or hitting the golf course with friends.
Though you are likely very passionate about your business you need to keep in mind your employees need a break to connect with life outside of work. Just because you want to burn the midnight oil doesn’t mean your team members should slog away alongside you. If there is a need for your employee’s to work extra hours see that they are compensated for going above and beyond. Learn to take a break yourself, and you will come back refreshed, recharged, and with a new outlook.
This is possibly the most destructive of the negative traits. When you stop caring about the needs of others, especially those seeking your guidance, you undermine the foundation of your entire company. A leader who lacks the emotional connection to be empathetic toward employees usually lacks empathy across the board. Address your lack of empathy and find ways to reconnect with your team members and those around you.
Leadership, expert, John Maxwell, says,
Ignores Leadership Development
Quality leaders will support, educate, encourage and develop their employees. When team members are shown a path to growth, education, and promotion they will be happier, hungrier, and more likely to stick around.
Real courage is necessary to lead. Have the guts necessary to take the big risks once in a while. Not only will this keep your team excited and fresh but you’ll find taking some risks will help you to get over the fear of making mistakes. You will always miss the shot you didn’t take.
A leader who permits, or worse participates in gossip isn’t just a flawed leader but a toxic one. Rise above the temptation to complain about or discuss anyone in your world with your team members. This will only lead to a destructive environment and a broken trust among leadership and team members. Lead by example and never tolerate anyone talking behind someone’s back.
Effective communication takes practice and dedication. If you find yourself continually trying to make a point it may be time to hone your communication skills. You need to be able to communicate competently across all mediums. Technology has taken away some of the punch of verbal dialog so remember that when sending emails and texts. When giving direction ask for feedback to make sure others understand exactly what you’re saying.
Sees Only One Point of View
A leader whose mind isn’t open to other perspectives and schools of thought will quickly fail. This type of leader is only listening to respond and most likely will disagree with the opinions of others.
Closed-mindedness is extremely undesirable for anyone in leadership. Your business, your team, and your life will be far more successful if you open your mind and your heart while continuing to learn about yourself, those you serve, and the world in general.
When things do not turn out as you would have liked, it is important to hold yourself accountable. You are the leader, after all, and assigning the blame is akin to passing the buck. Discuss how your attempts failed and open the floor to new ideas about how to proceed toward a more successful outcome next time. Be intentional about promoting a culture where mistakes are opportunities for growth.
Inconsistency leads to confusion. If your team views you as inconsistent their confidence in you will become shaky. Stand by your decisions and accept the consequences, even when it’s not so positive. Your team will repay your integrity with trust, the foundation of successful leadership.
An arrogant leader is typically a know-it-all who leads by command and basks in authority.
Tying It All Together
Even the most efficiently run organization can fall prey to poor leadership. Testing those in line for leadership positions is only part of the overall assessment for promotion. Spending more time developing leaders is a necessary part of the process and one that many businesses and organizations, sadly, don’t understand. Developing strong leaders takes dedication and time.
Let these character traits serve as red flag warnings. To truly be an effective leader you must let go of the ego, encourage and contribute to a positive environment, and have an ongoing dialogue with those in your circles. Only then will you begin to build a successful, loyal, and cohesive team.
What characteristics did I miss? What do you think indicates someone is or will be a poor leader?
Tim Crowley, Ph.D.
Motivational Keynote Speaker, Leadership, and Resilience Expert
Tim Crowley is a well-known speaker with a passion for growing agile leaders, teams, and organizations that produce extraordinary results. For more than 25 years his services have touched the lives of leaders in some of the most recognizable companies in the world. Including AT&T, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Ernst & Young, Hallmark, Johnson & Johnson, Lockheed Martin, Marriot, Microsoft, Nestle-Purina, along with numerous organizations, universities, state and federal agencies.
When not speaking, leading workshops, or writing he looks for inspiration through mountain biking, volunteering, and spending time with his family and friends.
Invite Tim to speak at your next event. You can learn more about him and how his services can help you and your team at drtimcrowley.com. Connect with Tim on LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.