11 Signs You’re a Leader Employees Despise

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Do you possess the peculiar courage to ask your employees how you’re doing as a leader?

Unfortunately, even if you do, chances are you aren’t going to get a straightforward and honest answer. The employee probably isn’t going to heavily pinpoint your faults and perhaps may even try to sweet talk his way through. What you’ll probably hear is but a vague picture and insincere opinion of how you’re faring as a leader. 

Wait. Why should I ask my employees this question? After all, you’re the boss. Simply put, employees are often disengaged or unproductive and the causes stem from the active dislike they have for their leader, often described as ‘the manager from hell’.

But none of these employees are going to risk their jobs to tell you that. And because of their reluctance, you may have to take a step back and look at your behaviour and be brave enough to recognise the areas you aren’t doing a good job as a leader (and how you can improve from here on). 

Here’re 11 signs that portray why you aren’t doing your job right as a leader:

1) You Go by the Book (and Nothing Can Change that) 

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What’s the difference between great and mediocre leaders?

Mediocre leaders are satisfied with being ordinary. They don’t see a need to push themselves or their employees forward to accomplish greater things as long as they’ve met the minimum standards. These leaders have a fixed structure in their head on how processes should function and taking risks are an absolutely no-no because that’s not what the book says.

While great leaders are in a constant state of growth and adaptability. They seek change and are willing to take risks to be the very best. These leaders are open-minded and flexible in accepting and implementing new ideas. They believe each problem has its own set of solutions. Therefore, if going by the book does not work out, try looking for other alternatives. In the course of doing that, you could even find new insights and more time-efficient ways. 

2) You’re Busy Being (Overly) Nice

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As human beings, we have an innate desire to be liked by others. Even though you’re a leader, you’re human too. You want to have great relationships with your employees. You want to motivate them, not make them be scared of you. And in the process,  you may have been overly nice and friendly in the hopes that they will appreciate your leadership style and excel at their jobs (which isn’t always the case). 

Great leaders know their purpose – their why. Running a business is not a popularity contest that leaders need to try to win. Yes, you need to treat your employees well but that doesn’t mean you have to do it all the time. Employees might take advantage of it and this will spell trouble for the company’s growth as they underperform in their roles. If you spend most of your time trying to be nice to your employees like you do with your family and friends, you aren’t leading professionally. Instead, know when to be serious and when to be nice. More importantly, work on your self-image and personality, so that people will see and respect you for who you are.

3) You Only Care About Results and Numbers

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Numbers and profits are vital to a company’s growth and industrial success. However, as a leader, if that’s your only concern – that’s not good. Great leaders are, first and foremost, CROs, chief relationship officers. Leaders cannot always focus on the bottom line.

What matters is the relationship you have with your employees. Click To Tweet

Will your employees stick with you if your company suddenly goes downhill someday? The number one character trait of great leaders is that they highly value the people they lead. Great leaders make people feel they’re important, trustworthy and implement their ideas. So forget the number game once in a while and focus on your employees’ interests. 

4) You Micromanage

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Great leaders are collaborative, they do not micromanage. They trust their team members to do what’s right and believe in their capabilities. Perhaps certain employees may require micromanagement. But it’s also important for you to take a step back and let them have a chance to do things their way. Give them space and the opportunity to shine. Even if they make mistakes, allow them to do so because it allows them to learn from their mistakes and grow to become better people. They will grow because they’re required to be responsible and exercise judgement. Therefore, don’t worry that your employees aren’t getting the job done right via your standards and expectations. As a leader, look at the big picture. Stop being myopic and nitpick at your employees all the time.

5) You Secretly, Or Not So Secretly, Dislike People

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Great leaders are genuine in their work relationships. Once again, no one is perfect and even as leaders, you may not like certain people. But you shouldn’t be immature and purposely make people feel bad about themselves. This could be in the case of gossiping with other employees about this person or purposely doubling his workload because of your own personal dislike. 

Great leaders understand that people are not here to please them and vice versa. They put their personal feelings aside and work professionally with them as a team, hoping to see them grow. They also exchange feedback with their employees often to ensure no negative feelings are harboured. You have to be interested in your employees to find out if there’s anything bothering them and what can be improved in the workplace.

6) You Take Away Others’ Spotlight 

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Bad leaders overworked their employees and take credit for what’s not theirs and justify their behaviour based on some ‘rational lies’ they tell themselves. No one wants to work in a toxic environment like that. You wouldn’t. Employees need to feel appreciated and gain a sense of ownership in their work. To retain employees, they need to feel that their work have contributed and is important to the company they work for. If whatever they do go to someone who did nothing to earn it, they’re better off elsewhere. 

Great leaders work together with employees and ensure they’re part of a greater purpose. Click To Tweet

Share in the reward and give recognition when they’ve done an exceptional job.

7) You Lack Empathy and Compassion

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Great leaders have a highly developed level of emotional intelligence. Rather than trying to lead your employees, have a genuine interest in them. Put others first before yourself. Share in your employees’ worries and show that you care. By keeping the door of communication wide open, this promotes connectivity and rapport with your employees. Let them know that you can be the first person to turn to when they face difficulties. Don’t let your position be a stumbling block for your employees to get close to you. Be approachable and build trust. 

8) Your People Don’t Trust You

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Great leaders value and understand the importance of trust. Without trust, nothing can work. You can’t work with those you don’t trust. Great leaders don’t say one thing and do another. Or break promises with their employees. If this is you, you’ll lose ground very quickly with your staff. Trust isn’t given, it’s earned. Once it’s broken, it can be hard to gain the trust of your employees again. So make your actions count and make sure measures are taken. 

9) You’re Like a Robot to Your Employees 

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What do we mean by this? You go to work and focus on work and nothing more or less. You don’t communicate or build relationships with your employees. You’re no different from a robot who only works. Great leaders are bonded to their people and their people are bonded to them.

Great leaders let their people see who they authentically are beyond their role as a leader. Click To Tweet

As you’re sharing stories about your life, you’re also sharing invaluable experiences and lessons with your employees. These stories testify to who the leader really is as a person. Be transparent and exercise integrity. Let people in, proving that you have learned the power of vulnerability. And nothing could ever beat that.  

10) You Are Too Stubborn

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Great leaders are open to almost everything – both pleasant and unpleasant ones. They’re willing to take in feedback, even in the form of criticisms. Being persistent is good but not when the general consensus says otherwise. Doing what it takes for the best interest of the company is the priority. You won’t want employees to think you’re inflexible and therefore lose respect for you. So don’t be a victim of your own stubbornness. Be willing to explore other viable options. Remember, stubbornness is a virtue only when it’s right.

11) You Don’t Train Enough

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Great leaders go to great lengths to nurture people. They see potential in them. Your people are like seeds that’re waiting for you to water them so invest in growing them – patiently. Don’t expect them to be a tree over a night. Employees are also more likely to stay committed and loyal to a company when they receive training from the company. This tells the employee that the company believes in him and wants to properly spend time and money so that he can continue to contribute great results. When given the right training, they can grow to be an unimaginably great tree that bear tremendous fruits. So cultivate the right learning environment for them to develop and shine.

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