I can’t tell you the horror stories I hear about work environments. It’s shocking that so many people are working for such difficult bosses or in unhealthy work environments. The bottom line, when it comes to work environments, is that the atmosphere always starts from the top and trickles down from there. If you’re a boss running a company where there are mean co-workers, stressed out employees, ongoing back-stabbing, fearful employees and/or controlling managers, then you are not leading effectively.
Below are five characteristics of ineffective and often harmful bosses:
1. Immoderate leading. Bosses go awry when they either lead with an iron fist or don’t lead at all. Being a dictator is no more effective than being conflict-avoidant and hesitant. Use your knowledge to skillfully lead without squashing the creativity, spirit or enthusiasm of your employees.
2. Believing in the bottom-line at all costs. When a boss is only concerned with the bottom line, s/he misses the mark. Having tunnel vision around money leads to over-worked employees, high turnover and a stressed out work environment. Focus your concern on developing a high quality product and creating a relational company that takes care of its employees and customers. Nothing will increase your bottom-line more than these actions.
3. Temperamental. A boss who is chastising and yelling one minute and then cheering and bringing in food the next is crazy-making. Doing a kind thing one day does not erase the punishing outbursts you delivered the day before. Pull yourself together and stop being so temperamental. You’re a leader, not a toddler.
4. Turning a blind eye. It is the boss’s job to notice the backstabbing in the office, rude comments in the meetings, hurtful gossiping or covert or overt undermining of individuals or groups within the work place. Step up and step in when there are unhealthy interactions going on in your company. You are responsible for creating a safe work environment and your employees are watching your example. Don’t laugh off a rude comment by your favorite employee, a sexist joke by your top manager or a caustic dig by your vice president. Healthy work environments are created by the moment-to-moment interactions of its leaders and employees. Don’t duck.
5. Egotistical. The worst bosses are so full of themselves that they openly berate their employees for being inept while simultaneously pumping themselves up for being the sole smart one in the company. Do not for a moment think that your company is alive and kicking solely because of you. If all your employees are inept, it doesn’t say much about your leadership. Why would you hire such incompetency? Get off your high horse before you destroy your employees and your company.
If you are a leader in your company, remember to be the leader you would want to work for. Don’t become the boss you used to hate having. Become the boss you wish you had. It takes very little talent to blindly lead through force and reactivity. Be thoughtful about all concerned, not just you or the bottom-line.
Challenge: Look at the characteristics above and objectively rate yourself on each one. If you struggle in one area, work hard to change in that area. Notice the shifts you see as a result.