Okay, this is a list that started out as 10 and then settled somewhere in the vicinity of 14 (I have editing issues), so I apologize for the length. Because it’s so long, I’ve broken it into two separate posts.
There are more of them out there, I’m sure – these are the ones that stand out to me because of the widespread impact they have on an organization.
So here, in no particular order, is the first half of my list:
- Fail to acknowledge their impact: Seriously – if you’re a leader, you impact your organization. Pure and simple. No ifs, ands or butts. So when a leader tries to pull the “do as I say, not as I do” crap, it just underscores a certain lack of awareness that leaders need to have to be successful. Don’t be surprised if your team throws each other under the bus when you do the same thing.
- Lie: This one’s a pretty obvious no-no, so why do leaders keep doing it? Well, according to research – we ALL lie and cheat…at least a little bit. But some people are LIARS (all caps – I know!) – they misrepresent their skills, their team’s skills, the facts, just about everything. When these lying liars lie, it impacts the business’s ability to make good decisions, destroys trust on all levels, and creates a culture that no one feels good in.
- Avoid conflict: I know. Conflict is icky. People might get upset. Voices might be raised. Eye contact might be made. Here’s the thing – without conflict, there is no debate. With no debate, the wrong decisions might be made because a leader was scared to “rock the boat”. Healthy conflict is ESSENTIAL to innovation and good business. The really annoying bit is that leaders who avoid conflict are often the first ones to say, “I told you so” when something happens that they suspected but didn’t bring up. Boo on them.
- Treat “accountability” like a disease: As you know, this is my “thing”. So when I deal with a leader who is unable to embrace accountability, it really puts a little black rain cloud over my head. Lack of accountability comes in many shapes and sizes, but primarily boils down to two big categories – inability to accept accountability for something you did, and inability to hold others accountable for their actions. Both are damaging to the organization. A leader who keeps getting bad outcomes yet doesn’t see how he/she contributed to the situation will forever be blaming outside forces for their issues (unless, of course, it’s a successful outcome – then it’s totally that leader’s skills that did it, the aptly named “self-serving bias”). A leader who doesn’t hold others accountable doesn’t get results, tends to complain about their team a lot, and doesn’t understand why all the A players want to leave.
- Talk more than listen: Leaders who listen get amazing results – their employees know they can take anything to their leader and it will be considered. Doesn’t mean it will be implemented, but at least their voice will be heard. Leaders who talk too much are usually GREAT speakers. They are often external processors. All that is well and good, but watch what happens to a team when a leader talks and talks and talks – there’s usually only one voice in meetings, no one is willing to bring things to the leader’s attention, people hesitate when the leader asks for ideas. That’s because people assume the leader’s voice will overrule all others. And that’s not good.
- Roll their eyes: Listen, I’m a champion eye-roller. You can hear my eyes rolling from across the country when I think something is ridiculous. And it’s a horrible trait that I’ve worked hard to eliminate. The reality is that eye rolling is the manifestation of contempt – one of the most damaging attitudes. Leaders who roll their eyes are really just treating another person with contempt. They are sending the message that others are inferior to them, that they can’t be bothered to deal with that other person’s issues. It’s often an involuntary movement, but don’t think for a moment the other person didn’t notice.
- Gossip: People like gossip. It makes them feel like they are in the “in-crowd” because they have secret information. And even though employees prefer to get their information from their manager, they usually end up getting information through the grapevine, so I get that gossip is a learned habit reinforced by years in the workforce. When leaders gossip, though, it is incredibly damaging. A leader’s words carry weight – speculation and rumor become fact when someone in authority says it. So come on, leaders – show some respect to the absent and stop gossiping.
Want to read more? Continue on to Part 2!
Want to argue my points? Leave a comment.