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Column: 7 things you do as a leader that your team can’t stand

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Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh since there is less cleaning up to do afterward. — Kurt Vonnegut

I read a report in Lighthouse of a survey of 1,000 American employees conducted by Michelle McQuaid, which revealed that 65% of respondents would take a new boss over a pay raise. In the same article, they cited another survey that found that 75% of employees consider their direct manager to be the worst part of their job. Ouch!

Are you surprised by this?

Many factors contribute to the attitudes and behaviors that exist in the workplace. And while every workplace is unique unto itself, I believe there are some common characteristics of leaders, who for better or worse, contribute to the culture of the organizations that they lead.

If you are a leader on any level in your organization, then you need to pay attention to my list of seven things you do as a leader that your team can’t stand. It’s not an exhaustive list, but these are certainly the more common ones. 

You are out of touch with your people

Any leader who is worth his or her salt knows that it’s your people who are the stars of the show. Do you know their hopes, their dreams, their fears, their joys, their concerns, their needs? If your people do not believe you are connected to them on any level, then what do you think motivates them to be invested in you as their leader? Your team can’t stand being out of sight and out of mind.

You don’t communicate values and vision

The connection of your people to your organization’s values and vision is not transferred to them by a piece of paper framed on the wall in the break room. It’s communicated and transferred from your heart to theirs. Your people need to see the big picture and hear how their part plays a role in attaining it. Your people need a clear understanding of where they are going and why.
Your team can’t stand being in the dark.

You don’t have their backs

Let’s be clear — loyalty is a two-way street. Your people need to know that you not only believe in them but when the chips are down and the stakes are high, you have their backs. They need to know that you are a leader who is willing to go to the mat for them. You can do this by taking a little bit more of the blame and little less of the credit. Your team can’t stand being thrown under the bus.

You don’t call out bad behaviors

If you are turning a blind eye or a deaf ear to toxic behaviors and attitudes, then, simply put, you are demoralizing your team. And you can rest assured the good ones who you can’t afford to lose are probably already looking to make their exit. And why not? If you are not calling out bad behaviors then why should your team place their confidence in you as a leader? What you tolerate you promote. Your team can’t stand you not having a backbone.

You don’t empower your people

There’s a fine line between being engaged and overreach as a leader. Engaged involves knowing and contributing and then stepping back and unleashing the talents of your people. Overreach is meddling and micromanaging. Sometimes the greatest hindrance to progress isn’t team members not doing their jobs, it’s team members not allowed to do their jobs because they are not empowered by their leader. Your team can’t stand you holding them back.

You don’t easily embrace change

Your ability to adapt as a leader is what gives you a competitive edge professionally. The same is true personally. But if you are a leader who is stuck in your ways and you are not able to adapt to your changing environment you are taking away your competitive edge. Your team can’t move forward and remain relevant if you are the last one on board. In other words, the train will leave with or without you. Don’t give away your competitive edge because you are stuck in a mindset and way of doing things that only served you well twenty years ago. Your team can’t stand waiting for 
you.

You don’t realize that everything rises and falls on leadership

This point is attributed to John Maxwell who coined the phrase. But as you read through my list you will see that at the heart of every issue that gives your team grief, at the core, is a leadership deficiency that drives it. While this is problematic, there is a silver lining to be found. You can right the ship and make corrections. But you must put yourself on a leadership track that will help you. In order to lead your people, you must first know how to lead yourself. Your team can’t stand you not being a strong leader. 

You don’t have to be the boss or leader that your team can’t stand. Are you ready to rise to the leadership challenge?

Doug Dickerson is a Charleston-area leadership author, columnist, coach and speaker. Contact him at managementmoment@gmail.com or online at www.dougdickerson.net. 

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