Have you ever found yourself engaging in behaviors which, upon reflection, you believe might be undermining your leadership in the minds of those who work for you? Undoubtedly you have, most of us would admit to doing this at one time or another. What are some of the most egregious of these? Consider the following common examples.
Upon asking for or receiving the suggestion of an employee, immediately shut down further discussion by stating that it won’t work and going on to give your opinion as to why it won’t work and why your ideas are better. This behavior will cause some of your group to be intimidated, and from then on they will tell you either what you want to hear or nothing at all. Employees who consider themselves knowledgeable will be angered by this approach, and they may decide you are not worthy of further suggestions. Either way, credibility in your leadership is weakened.
Using humor in an inappropriate way. Sometimes, those interested in a leadership position might try to use humor to better bond with their employees. When used genuinely and appropriately, humor can be an excellent way to help build positive relationships with those who work for you. If you constantly use humor however to show how clever you are, it may have the opposite effect with some employees. The use of inappropriate (off-color etc.) humor is always, of course, inappropriate. The use of acerbic humor, especially when it is seen as ridiculing, teasing or even bullying, will have the effect of leaving employees drained and disheartened. If such humor leaves employees believing you’re trying to be mean, it can them lead to discount your leadership entirely.
Asking for input and then doing nothing with it. This signals to individuals that their ideas are really not valuable and it won’t be long before they quit providing meaningful and heartfelt feedback. This is different than not using every suggestion that is solicited, as no leader is obligated to use every suggestion they receive. Not using sought after input might the your employees to believe you are unable to make decisions. This can quickly cause your employers to lose their respect for as well as their confidence in you.
Providing feedback or being critical of your employees in public. This should not even have to be mentioned, yet you see examples of it all the time. I knew one such manager who would wait until he heard the suggestion of an employee he wanted to make a public example of, then he would leap upon that individuals suggestion as an example of what was wrong in the organization or with that particular employee. Today they would call such behavior bullying, and there is no place for that in a workplace worthy of your participation. Similar to this is keeping your composure. The same manager I mentioned above would come into a meeting and sit as far away as possible from the rest of the group. He would immerse himself in the Wall Street Journal and wait until he heard something he didn’t like. He would then slam his paper on the table, march to the front of the room and take over the meeting. Losing your temper, calling people names and using negative emotion to make a point not only sabotages your credibility, it also causes your employees to not trust or respect you. Furthermore, employers who tolerate this type of behavior are not worthy of your employment. In today’s environment, there are simply too many companies who are looking for dedicated and talented employees to continue working for an organization that tacitly supports such perverse behavior.