As I said in Part 1, I’m sure there are more than what’s on this list. But come on, I already had to break the post up into two articles because of the length – give me a break!
And now, the thrilling conclusion of my list (in no particular order):
- Ignore evidence: Sometimes super smart people can’t see the forest for the trees. Or they already have their mind made up and look for confirmatory “facts”. Or they refuse to admit that a pattern of circumstantial evidence trumps a smoking gun. Whatever it is, it can be very frustrating for a team that perceives its leader as someone who ignores what they see as “obvious” – this is how grumbling starts. Yes, I acknowledge that there is often evidence a leader has that can’t be shared with others. So tell them that. I’m more concerned with a leader who explains away evidence because it’s inconvenient to acknowledge it.
- Have trust issues: Ah, trust. That oh-so-important-yet-rarely-mastered element of a highly functioning team. When a leader trusts too much or too little, the balance of the organization can be completely thrown off. I tend to think that trusting too little is a bit more damaging as I’ve seen its impact first hand, but trusting too much can lead to a number of the other behaviors on this list and can also damage a leader’s credibility. Trust is a combination of character and competence – once you’ve figured that out, leaders, you can go from there.
- Bully others / allow bullying: Yes – bullies are often insecure and act out because of fear. I don’t care – they’re still jerks who harm others and kill a culture. If you are a bully, stop it. If you know a bully, stop them. I don’t care how great the results this person might bring to the organization – I can tell you that in the long run, it is NEVER worth it. (SHRM members, check out this article on why bullies thrive at work.)
- Think “me first”: One of the more difficult aspects of leadership to wrap one’d mind around is that it’s not about you and your abilities any more – it’s about your team and their results. Some leaders aren’t able to make that leap, and it makes me sad because it robs a team of an opportunity to spread its wings, and it limits a leader’s ability to positively impact a greater part of the organization. It should always be about the team and about the company for leaders. (Oh, and guess what – if you’re an executive, your team is the executive team…not your organization.)
- Focus too much on who likes them: The reality is that at any given time, there are dozens of people who don’t like you. In fact, it could be in the hundreds or more, depending on your company’s size and industry. Get over it. USA Today recently shared this fantastic quote from Eleanor Roosevelt – “Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway.” You’re never going to get everyone to like you, so focus more on making the right decision and feel confident you can stand by it for the right reasons.
- Don’t develop their people: Shame on you. Your people hunger for growth and thirst for knowledge. You’re unwillingness to develop your people is either lazy, petty, or both. I’ve always told leaders that their job is to train their replacement and/or find a way to help their people reach their full potential. If you don’t want to do that, then don’t be a leader. (By the way, read this post by Mike Figliuolo on becoming a talent exporter – great stuff!)
- Play favorites: We know…you love all your children equally, blah blah blah. Oh please – we all have a favorite or two. Some employees are special and you want to help develop them. That’s okay. What’s not okay is BLATANT favoritism – especially when it’s unwarranted and/or based on personal friendship. Leaders who blatantly play favorites put the whole organization in jeopardy because the wrong people are sometimes promoted or otherwise rewarded…and the good employees see that and leave. And that makes me sad.
Well, there you have it. My Top Ten (-ish) Leadership Behaviors that make me sad. Agree? Disagree? Think I missed a few? Let me know! Share in the comments or send me a note.
[Sad Panda graphic respectfully grabbed off the internet because I LOVE that South Park episode!!]