Is a bad leader still a leader, or are they just a "manager" in the loosest sense of the word? No matter what you call them, many managers lack fundamental training in actually managing people. Without that, it's impossible to be an effective leader.

Even more importantly, there are managers who lack the sensitivity, values, and keen awareness necessary to interact appropriately with the people around them. When an employee quits or resigns, the main reason behind that resignation is the relationship with their manager.

In fact, Accenture provided insight with a study that said 31% of employees quit because they just don't like their boss.

That can all be prevented if you consider the most common mistakes of bad managers--and even new entrepreneurs. Be proactive and identify the traits that drive this behavior so you can correct yourself, as well as those managers on your staff, before problems arise.

Failure to provide clear direction

In order for your employees to do their jobs and do them well, they need to know what to do. That means you need to give them clear direction. That doesn't mean you need to hover and micromanage.

Provide the necessary direction and step away. Don't over-prioritize, because when everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority. Without clear, simple direction for your employees, they'll never feel like they can accomplish tasks or goals, and they will fail.

Find a strong balance between being rigid and flexible. Lead your team and provide direction and empowerment.

Not seeing employees as people

Part of good leadership is maintaining a professional distance from your team, free of fraternization. You don't want to be their counselor or their regular karaoke buddy, but you should stay tuned in to what's happening in their lives.

Every person on your team is an individual with wants, needs, desires, problems, achievements, and goals outside of their professional employment. When you stay tuned in, you're seen as an interested and involved boss. An effective leader sees each employee as the individual that they are.

Lack of trust

When a manager doesn't trust their team to handle the workload, you'll see it manifest in a number of ways. This can include anything from constantly checking up on the status of work, to micromanaging projects. This is a surefire way to destroy employee morale.

You have to trust your employees, and trust that they'll hit their goals for you. If you absolutely cannot trust an employee among your group, then reevaluate that employee: if you cannot trust your team, then it's time to reevaluate yourself.

Inability to actively listen

Active listening is a critical skill for a good leader. The right kind of listening provides recognition and demonstrates that you value the employee. When they know that you are listening, then they feel respected and valued.

When you don't listen to your employees, it won't be long before they just stop talking. Without that constant flow of information and communication, you won't have an edge on projects, production, or workflow.

Not seeking input

Your employees should be an integral part of your growth and success. When you're going to make decisions, you should always seek feedback from those around you. A good leader takes it one step further by making sure employees know that their feedback matters, and often seek feedback long before the decision is made.

You can fool some people by making decisions on the sly, and then asking for feedback, but your best employees will catch on and it won't be long before they remove themselves from the cycle of back-patting and empty thanks.

Enabling your employees to make decisions is the heart of empowerment, and it's the best way to keep employees engaged.

Hypocritical behavior

Nothing will sour relationships faster than when a manager or executive is able to operate under a different set of rules than the rest of the team. If you make policies that apply to everyone in the company, then they should apply all the way up the chain to the highest-level employees.

If you have a ban on social media use in the workplace but your employees see you posting constantly, how do you think that makes them feel? If you make a no smoking policy that includes electronic cigarettes, but you smoke in the building, then you're just fueling rapidly-growing resentment among your team.

Going for the quick fix

A short-sighted manager will try to fix the problem in front of them as quickly as possible with the fastest and most efficient solution. This often gets the job done, but at what cost? A strong leader will look at the big picture and consider the impact of multiple solutions. You should always choose the lasting solution even if it's more costly to implement in the short-term.

A manager wielding a big ego is the most likely to alienate his or her employees. Go beyond a typical management role and focus more on leading your team by making sound choices. Make a fun and open environment for your employees, provide incentives for feedback, and listen and learn from their growth, as well as yours.

What steps have you taken to curb employee discontent and improve your own leadership skills? Share in the comments:

Published on: Feb 19, 2016