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6 signs of a scary leader

Boo! Wearing a costume and telling a scary story about ghosts can be great fun around Halloween.  Maybe you enjoy the feeling of uncertainty and the gruesome surprises hidden around the corner of haunted houses.  Sometimes those scary feelings that give you an adrenaline rush are enjoyable, especially when you have assurance that you’ll be safe in the end and return home.

Have you thought lately about how you make your employees feel?  The adrenaline rush you are giving them may not be so fun.

Shark costume

  • Not listening to employees:  It’s important to take time and ask open-ended questions to your team so you can hear what’s really happening.  Don’t be afraid to ask difficult questions–you want to get the truth.
  • Threatening employees:  while you want to be clear about gaps in performance, a threatening tone is not the way to go.  Remember that it is much better to improve performance through effective management, and retaining employees is preferable to losing them when you consider the cost of low retention and the morale that it cuts.
  • Only managing up, not down:  You have to be looking both directions at all times.  You’re responsible for making your team better.
  • Asking employees a zillion questions about every single project or decision:  You need to work in the big picture and trust your employees to do their jobs. If there is a training issue, that is another problem, but you should set people free to do their work in their own way.
  • Not setting a clear vision to employees: Expecting others to execute and be accountable, but not being so yourself:  can’t make a deadline?  If you’d expect your staff to share that with you, you should tell them when you can’t and give a short reason why.
  • Doing things that your staff should do without consulting them first: you should be delegating, not executing every single task.
  • Taking himself or herself too seriously and never laughing or having fun.

When you’re doing these scary things, you aren’t leading or necessarily even managing people.  Your employees will be less engaged, leading to a whole host of other problems and not operating at peak performance.  An effective leader needs to ensure that employees are comfortable and motivated in their roles, with clear responsibilities and measurements given.  While you don’t want to be the “fairy godmother” of the organization, don’t wear the villain costume either.


Article by Jeanne Ward.

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