How to Cure Bad Bosses

It’s not easy being a manager or leader. Apparently, research on just how difficult it is from Gallup shows that 18% of managers demonstrate the talent to leading others. This leaves a wide margin for bad bosses.

Characteristics of Bad Bosses

Bad bosses have underdeveloped leadership and management skills that hold them back from being talented.

Oblivious to People Matters

When it comes to people, bad bosses are oblivious to matters important to their employees.

  • Bad bosses work in silos, failing to build relationships with employees and with peers. Silo-working is inherently caused by a failure to recognize that work is a team sport.
  • Work demands 1/3 of our life, by some estimates. Bad bosses are unaware of or simply don’t care how the work environment impacts employees’ personal lives. Consequently, employees can experience a host of issues ranging from disengagement, higher stress levels, even anger. Ultimately untalented managers negatively impact employees’ wellbeing.
  • Untalented bosses overlook the importance of professional development. They rarely make time for employees to attend workshops or align projects with development goals. The latter assumes that a professional development conversation has occurred. Bad bosses don’t proactively engage employees in this type of conversation.

Focus on Their Own Needs

The second characteristic of bad bosses is a myopic perspective of their own needs.

  • Goals for the underperforming leader tend to be a distraction or self-serving. Case in point, in a study completed by consulting firm, Root, 68% of workers believed leaders were better at their own jobs and unable to inspire success in others.
  • Because bad bosses focus on their own needs, they are unaware of how their actions impact others. In severe cases they don’t care.

Curing Bad Bosses

The work environment suffers when bad bosses don’t grow or develop their skills and leverage their strengths. The question is, what can a bad boss do to become a better one?

  1. Begin holding one-on-ones. The focus should be mostly on the employee. These weekly conversations should support progress in work and removing impediments to progress.

The work environment suffers when bad bosses don’t grow or develop their skills and leverage their strengths.

  1. Study organization’s strategy. Examine how the company’s strategy influences your team so that you can have purpose-focused conversations about each employee’s role and his or her contribution. If there is no published strategy, spend time with your team articulating whom they serve: What do they want? Why is that important? What value do your customers expect? What skills are needed to deliver on the value?
  1. Bust silos. Begin connecting with people across the organization. Focus on learning more about their business.
  1. Identify your personal values. I believe great leaders know what they stand for. This awareness begins with knowing your personal values. Our friends at Luck Companies have a fantastic way to define what you stand for.
  1. Leverage purpose. Link your employees’ work to the team’s purpose. Explore with your team why it exists. Connect your team’s purpose to what your customers want. Link the team’s purpose to the company’s strategy: How are they aligned? What areas can you focus more on for stronger alignment?

Being a bad boss is a temporary condition. It can be overcome with an intention to develop managerial and leadership talents and strengths. But it starts with a choice.

Did you like today’s post? If so you’ll love our frequent newsletter! Sign up HERE and receiveThe Switch and Shift Change Playbook, by Shawn Murphy, as our thanks to you!

Change Leader | Speaker | Writer Co-founder and CEO of Switch and Shift. Passionately explores the space where business & humanity intersect. Promoter of workplace optimism. Believes work can be a source of joy. Top ranked leadership blogger by Huffington Post. The Optimistic Workplace (AMACOM) out 2015

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