If I were writing this post three years ago, I would have opened with "Having affairs with underlings" as the number one thing that smart bosses avoid. Post #MeToo, that's advice that hardly needs repeating, since only management idiots would take that kind of risk.
That being said, I'm not sure everyone remembers how common such affairs were. Heck, in the '90s, I heard more more than one CEO brag (on the record, to a reporter!) that "being CEO is an aphrodisiac," in the clear belief that such internal poaching was A-OK.
At the time, I remember thinking that the behavior in question wasn't just creepy, it also promoted the kind of favoritism that positively murders morale. With that in mind, here are some other common CEO behaviors that the smartest ones have already jettisoned.
1. Blowing off steam in a meeting
Being a boss is stressful and often frustrating. Unfortunately, many otherwise talented bosses deal with those negative emotions by exploding at employees, insulting them for their stupidity, or even firing them on the spot. While the release makes the boss feel better, it makes everyone else in the room feel like crap, and then as if they must walk on eggshells.
2. Hiring family members
Most family businesses turn into slow-motion train wrecks. From the start, they reflect and exacerbate dysfunctional family dynamics. Non-family employees must cope with the inevitable squabbles as well as the dawning realization that they'll always be outsiders, unless they marry into the fold. That's why the history of business is full of epic family rivalry that destroyed entire companies.
3. Tolerating internal presentations
PowerPoints consist largely of half-baked outlines, cheesy clip art, and cabalistic diagrams, all of which inevitably lead to fuzzy thinking and bad decision-making. To make matters worse, the slide-by-slide format forces everybody to absorb the half-baked thinking at the snail's pace at which a presenter speaks. This is why many top CEOs have banned PowerPoint from their own meetings.
4. Calling non-first responder employees "heroes"
Throughout the pandemic, it's become customary for employers and the public alike to refer to employees as "heroes." While that seems like high praise indeed, in fact it deflects attention from the fact that it's the responsibility of business owners and bosses to ensure that jobs can be accomplished without employees being forced to risk their lives.
5. Holding regular staff meetings
You know the routine. You go around the table and everyone gives a report on their bailiwick. Such meetings inevitably meander into rat holes, devolve into pass-the-hot-potato sessions, or degenerate into finger-pointing festivals. I have personally attended at least 100 staff meetings and do not recall even one that helped anyone become more successful.
6. Behaving like a know-it-all
Newly assigned bosses often think that to establish credibility, they must immediately tell everybody what they're doing wrong and what they should be doing instead, without bothering to canvas the thoughts of employees who have extensive experience working inside that company. Rather than establishing credibility, this marks the new boss as either being insecure or stupid. Or both.
7. Accepting gifts from employees
It's become a thing in many firms for employees to pool their money to buy the boss a gift for their birthday, boss's day, and the holidays. While such gifts supposedly express genuine affection, the person(s) gathering funds and buying the gift are clearly brownnosing, while the size of the donations becomes a source of malicious office politics.