Leadership broken down into its most basic and practical form can be defined as meeting the needs of people and developing them to their fullest potential.
When employees don't develop and have their needs met to do their jobs well, they experience low morale, they stop caring, and they stop trying.
To reverse the effects of bad leadership, when the rubber meets the road, these are five of the most common bad leadership behaviors I've encountered as an executive coach over the years.
1. Not recognizing people for doing good work.
Gallup has surveyed literally millions of employees worldwide and found that people who receive regular recognition and praise increase their individual productivity, increase engagement, and are more likely to stay with their organization. Additionally, they receive higher loyalty and satisfaction scores from customers and have better safety records and fewer accidents on the job.
2. Disrespecting employees.
In a 2020 poll conducted by ResumeLab on what makes someone a bad leader, it was found that an alarming 72 percent of the surveyed population was treated in a rude or disrespectful manner by a boss. Additionally, nearly 70 percent of respondents were criticized in front of their peers, and 83 percent of them felt bad about it. Finally, and perhaps the worst case of all, an eye-popping 42 percent of bad leaders blamed others for their failures, which 84 percent of employees felt is unfair.
3. Failure to communicate effectively.
In my work coaching leaders, communication issues are common. Too much of it, not enough of it, wrong messages being sent. Whatever form it comes in, poor communication can affect work morale, disengage your employees, and dissatisfy your customers. Whatever the case, one thing should be crystal clear: Communication, whether interpersonal or organizational, is a necessity for success.
4. Lacking integrity.
When questionable decisions for financial gain or personal benefit are made, employees know. And if they know, you've already lost the battle for respect. But if you lead by example and show integrity in your decision-making, it says a lot about you -- the leader. Who you are as a person in relation to others will ultimately determine your level of success.
5. Failure to give ongoing feedback as part of the manager-employee relationship.
Far too often, the typical annual performance review and its process don't result in positive feedback. Generally, in this process, managers will bank up views and perspectives until review time, dumping them all at once on the employee, thus leaving them dazed and confused, overwhelmed, and in some cases irritated.
If we want our employees to grow, why are we waiting an entire year to offer them help? Feedback is about asking and receiving useful advice and insights on a continuous journey toward shared goals. It's about building trusting relationships and knowing that help is there.
When we get it right, feedback lifts people up, helps them understand their strengths, and shows them pathways to achieve the next step in their career progression.