How to Avoid Disfunctional Leadership Behaviors

Sept. 2022

The pandemic caused us to reevaluate many things about ourselves, our businesses and our leadership qualities. What stood out is that good leaders gracefully navigated the many crises and policy shifts they had to face. However, when poor leaders were forced to manage in ways that were not natural to them, the flaws in their management styles were highlighted. Now that we are entering the post-pandemic period, it is becoming apparent that employees want to work for managers who trust them.

Here are three behaviors commonly displayed by poor managers:

Micromanaging. Working for a micromanager is difficult at the best of times. It can be unbearable when working remotely. The underlying problem is that micromanagers do not trust their teams to do the right thing. The lack of trust leads the manager to watch each team member's every move to be sure the work is being done. In response to the manager's behavior, the team focuses on getting the details of the assignment just right but pays little or no attention to the big picture. Stress is increased and creativity is stifled in the process — which is exactly the opposite of what is needed in a rapidly changing business environment.

Poor communication. Prior to the pandemic, employees were told about plans that were in progress on a need-to-know basis. For better or worse, the office grapevine took care of the rest. That changed as leaders were forced to be more transparent and communicate more frequently and honestly. There was a recognition that social media plays a bigger role in what employees know than managers were willing to acknowledge before the world turned upside down, and that there are now few secrets. The best leaders embraced this reality and encouraged two-way conversations with their teams, even if it meant dealing with positive and negative reactions and comments.

Lack of willingness to learn. We all are learning on the job, so to speak, and no one — not even the business owner or CEO — has all the answers. Many leaders are accustomed to being viewed as the authority on all business-related matters. With the old rules changing, that is no longer the case. Poor leaders are reluctant to give up the psychological power of being the go-to source of information. These leaders need to understand that a willingness to listen to other opinions is not the same as relinquishing their decision-making power.

The good news is that the pandemic has given us an updated definition of what good leadership means. It also defined the traits exhibited by poor leaders. Leaders who believe they exhibit any of those traits should take steps to change how they lead their teams.

Copyright 2022