3 behaviors that bad bosses do well
Friday, January 11, 2019
We often talk about the traits of great leaders. Harvard Business Review, Inc. magazine, Psychology Today, and numerous best-selling books often share the latest research on leadership. Great organizations sustain themselves with great leaders at every level when they employ the right practices.
But what happens in organizations with bad leaders? There is a misconception that just because someone has the title of leader and a great product that they are good at leading people.
Here are three behaviors that bad leaders do so well, their employees end up hating them, retiring in place or just quit.
1. Ignore employees when they contribute ideas that will benefit the business or correct a problem.
According to research by Mark Murphy in Forbes, employees who feel that leadership listens to their ideas are 12 times more likely to recommend their company as a great place to work.
Imagine what employees that don’t get heard are saying. Employers that say they can’t get good people should ponder this point.
2. Humiliate employees through personal attacks and public scolding when they make mistakes.
One of my clients was a healthcare clinic with several locations in Silicon Valley. They hired me to find out why employees were leaving after only a few months.
There was doctor who used to scream at his nurse, who then screamed at the rest of the employees. Patients quit the practice because they were so uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, the doctor felt that employees wanted it “too easy,” and refused feedback. Fortunately for everyone else, the corporation listened to the feedback and fired the doctor and the nurse.
3. Demand that everyone conform to norms of a dominant culture when those norms have no impact on work.
In fact, forcing someone to “conform” to a culture inhibits productivity because the employee is spending their time and energy not being themselves and worrying about being accepted and acting like the dominant culture.
An African-American woman at a bank was told that her natural hairstyle was “too messy,” and that she had to “do something with it,” or she would not be allowed to interact with the public.
A Latino manager was told he needed to practice his presentation in front of three white managers to make sure he wasn’t too emotional or moved around too much. Neither of the other two managers making presentations was asked to “practice” their presentation in advance.
Both of these employees left their organizations and found work with competitors where they could be themselves and do their best work, resulting in promotions for both of them.
Consider the toll absolute conformity takes on an individual.
There are certain norms that impact work, that are requirements to do the work. People who work in kitchens need to wear a hairnet. Some workplaces require more formal attire while others necessitate casual clothes.
Bad bosses who exhibit these behaviors and management practices need to be recognized by how well they destroy morale, alienate employees and shut down creativity.
When you read the books, attend the seminars and work with an executive coach, it’s not enough to know how to be a good leader, you need to know and recognize what it means to be a bad boss. And with that information and knowledge you can help other leaders in your organization do their best, and create inclusive workplaces where everyone can do their best work.
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