Five Signs You Might Be a Bad Boss

  1. You can’t control your emotions

As a leader, your emotional tone sets the tone for your team. If you are frustrated, your team is in all likelihood going to experience frustrations. I am sure you have heard, “emotions are contagious.” Today there is increasing evidence that they are.  Realizing that you as a leader have a choice, you can take control of your emotions and lead from the emotional state you want in your people. If you want them to be creative and collaborative, then you lead from that state.

  1. You don’t recognize the team (Or even acknowledge them)

Humans are social beings and they desire (maybe even need) connection with each other. Our social connectedness has a physiological impact on our well-being. One of the ways we connect is through recognition. In fact, some studies have shown that praise actually has a larger impact on performance than does a cash bonus. What does this mean for you as a leader? It means that you can significantly influence your team’s performance by recognizing them. And, even if they just meet the expectation or even failed, just acknowledging the effort will go a long way in lighting up their performance.

  1. You Micromanage

Micromanagement is creating a sense of dependency on you as a leader and a sense of control for you as you delegate work. Think of the manager who asks you to write a proposal and then on every draft, they add their edits and before too long they have written the proposal and they have not met the buyer. This can be a single manager or an entire organization. I remember one organization in the 90’s that I worked with who decided that we could not purchase Post It Notes™ as a cost saver. Talk about rebellion.


  1. You provide zero guidance

The other side of this coin is that you provide zero guidance. This is the manager that introduces himself or herself on the first day, provides your duties and then you don’t hear from them again until your evaluation. You are on your own. I had one manager who was offended when I asked for feedback.

  1. You don’t listen

As managers rise through the ranks they tend to become more focused on the numbers and the data. The organization begins to be about FTE and assets as opposed to Tom and Mary. As such, often a decision or direction is made at the top without listening to the input of those that are on the front line. I remember one Senior VP at a company that I worked with. He was always talking about the “voice of the customer.” This was to be our guiding light. Yet Dick (not his real name) never left the HQ and to my observation never surveyed customers. I wonder where his voices were coming from.

Listening is perhaps one of the best ways for a manager to build engagement with their team. By listening you are demonstrating that you care about your team and that you value their input. The research continues to show that the number one reason people leave their job and/or are unengaged is the relationship with their boss. How many relationships are you in where the other party does not listen?

Leadership is not for the faint of heart. It also requires the soft skills in addition to the technical skills. One of my most effective leaders was an ex-Marine Corp Captain. He had very high Emotional Intelligence™. By taking the time to slow down and communicate at a deeper level with your team you will quickly see new results.

If you would like to learn more about how communication can help your teams align, engage and execute please send me an email at

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