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Leadership, or Bad Management?

Have you ever worked for a micromanager? It can make you question everything – yourself, your competence, your sanity. It can take a job you once loved and turn it in to one you hate. A micromanager tells you what to do – and then stands over you and double-checks every infinitesimal detail of your work, doesn’t empower you to do your work independently, doesn’t trust you. There are managers, and there are leaders. There are effective and not so effective managers. A leader sets the example for her staff by modelling for them what the most professional, best practice standard is. A leader treats the team with respect and diplomacy, and is willing to take one for the team, doesn’t shame employees, have tantrums around the office, does not engage in inappropriate behavior, such as getting drunk during business hours or chasing the receptionist around the desk and doesn’t engage in the “good old boy” system, or treats women like subhumans.

A leader inspires and leads by example, has a clear vision and is enthusiastic about the work at hand. He or she sets high but reasonable expectations, and shows appreciation to employees and doesn’t treat the janitor any less respectfully than the CEO. A leader is well-respected and never has to resort to threats or fear tactics to motivate others. A leader values the input of the team and doesn’t try to be a hero or take credit for others’ contributions. A bad manager is passive-aggressive, bossy, negative, makes staff cringe, worry, or fear. A bad manager may yell or threaten or make it plain they don’t want to be bothered, even when it is for important questions to help someone do their job well. This is in contrast to the good manager or leader who coaches, and asks their staff what they need in order to do their job well, whether it is resources, information, or training. A bad manager won’t hesitate to throw the lowliest employee under the bus, whereas a respected leader will shoulder the blame for the team for an honest mistake.

A good manager or leader will communicate clearly and respectfully and invite questions and feedback from others. He or she knows they can’t do it all and they avail themselves of the wisdom of seasoned staff and others who can offer proven sage advice. They are comfortable accepting constructive criticism and fresh ideas from those around them, and philosophically accept it as a way to improve things, whereas a bad manager is defensive, sometimes sarcastic, and isn’t interested in others’ ideas or suggestions, or worse, may take credit for the work or ideas of others. Effective leaders make sure the team understands the expectations, and has an open-door policy anytime someone has questions or concerns, or ideas. Good managers and leaders invite brainstorming and creativity, where a bad manager is sometimes threatened by it, with an attitude of, ”But this is the way we’ve always done it.”, or “Do it because I told you so and don’t ask questions.”

Working for bad management is directly related to stress levels in employees, and that stress can carry through to life at home. Ever hear of the “kick the dog theory”? Anyone who has seen a cartoon of a stressed-out man, harangued by his boss all day long, and then comes home, finally explodes and kicks the proverbial family dog is witness to it. When an employee feels so intimidated about approaching their boss to discuss work needs, ideas, ask questions, resents their boss, feels taken advantage of and unappreciated, never feels validated when performing stellar work, the stress can hit hard and can begin to impact health, creating depression, anxiety, worry, even cardiac issues. Work stress by working for a bad boss who makes one’s work life miserable can create problems in intimate relationships in the home, and result in abuse of alcohol or substances. A strong leader regularly checks in with employees, making sure they are competent but also confident and validated in their work. They regard their employees’ mental health, as well as professionalism, important, astutely recognizing that a stressed-out, wired employee is no longer totally effective and can make costly mistakes, resulting in higher turnover, lowered employee retention, all of which cost employers. A good leader will engage in proactive practices, such as prevention, such as encouraging employees to take their earned vacation time, stay home when ill, not call an employee at 8 AM on Sunday morning to ask where the boss laid the file folder down. They expect good work, as they should – but they make sure the workforce has everything they need, such as resources and training, in order to do it in.

A good leader is aware that reward often works more effectively than punishment, and acknowledges stellar work with praise and compensation. They establish clearly-communicated policies and procedures that are as universal as possible, fair, and even, complete with fair consequences, timeframes, detailed job descriptions. In short, they make sure everyone knows what is expected of them, and by when, and that they have what they need in order to do it. A respectable leader will not engage in gossip, manipulation, lying, cooking the books. They don’t ask their staff to do basically anything within reason they wouldn’t do themselves. A bad manager is not usually well-organized, and often is easily set off, or may be overwhelmed or under-trained or underqualified to do their own job. They don’t know how to properly motivate, or lead a group out of a paper sack and often don’t possess a clear vision. A common mistake made by employers is to put someone in charge of real, live human beings simply because they have worked for the company a long time and the building was practically build around them. A manager doesn’t automatically make a good leader. It requires training and real skill and aptitude in order to lead people but it doesn’t take much to destroy their morale, their productivity, their vision and their respect in the boss, and in the company.

If I can help you develop traits to become a better manager or leader, call me at 501.238.2557, or email me at Sincera Wellness, LLC, at . My counseling practice is at and I can help you find effective ways to become the leader you want to be and that your staff need you to be. I can also create a customized package for you and your staff, no matter how small an employer you are, on a monthly or annual basis and offer such amenities as on-site workshops, speaking engagements, some counseling.

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