Over the years, I've concluded that all managers within an organization (from a supervisor up to the executive level) must be leaders for their businesses to thrive.

I say this wholeheartedly because I've seen enough corporate disasters ending in failed businesses due to catastrophic leadership mistakes.

If your organization is suffering from a leadership crisis, my bottom-line advice is for your company to stop placing (hiring, promoting) people in leadership positions that have no business being in these privileged roles.

Watch for these dire warning signs. They may be blatantly obvious to your best employees, who may be scrambling for an exit strategy:

1. They squash innovation.

Leaders who say they want an innovative team or culture and then turn around and kill any new idea brought forth are subconsciously sabotaging the creative process through a top-down approach.

Instead, they need a bottom-up "pull" approach, supporting and nurturing innovation from "idea people" who want to contribute and make a difference.

2. They triangulate.

Picture a sensitive situation in which a manager will not communicate directly with a subordinate or peer, but will gladly reach out to communicate with a third person, which can lead to that person (who may not even be involved in the situation) becoming part of the problem. Sometimes this manager will even play the two people against each other. Welcome to triangulating. This is a typical dysfunctional pattern of managers who don't have the courage to deal directly with an issue by communicating honesty to diffuse the situation.

3. They show lack of accountability.

These managers don't exercise responsibility and own up to "their stuff" when "their stuff" is at fault. Remember the old saying "For every finger you point, there are three pointing back at you"? They are critical, can't admit to their own mistakes, are never wrong, and will blame other people (typically their subordinates) when something goes wrong, even if it's not based on reality. They are simply not accountable for their own actions. They are more concerned with preserving their reputation and saving face.

4. They show no interest in their team members.

It's the feeling that employees get when they realize that their manager has little interest in them as human beings--their personal lives, their aspirations and their interests. This is a manager that is disconnected and disengaged, does not develop personal relationships or fosters collaboration, and spends considerable time making and communicating decisions behind emails and through formal company announcements.

5. They lead through fear and control.

"Oh, I just love how my boss dominates all our decisions, looks over our shoulders, and pushes us around," said no employee ever. These managers are riding high on their autocratic horses, micromanaging every move. Whether they know it or not, they have fostered the unpleasant climate where employees are constantly watching over their backs (for their manager's whereabouts). Facing such a manager during the day probably means bad news because the exchange is never positive. This type of manager will create distrust where it's not safe to disclose information, offer input, or work in close collaboration. Unfortunately, they miss the grand opportunity to allow freedom for others to experiment, lead themselves, stretch, and make mistakes (which will unleash discretionary effort that will produce great results).

6. They don't actively listen.

The lack of active and respectful listening and two-way communication (sending without receiving) is a clear shortcoming for these managers. The willingness to listen to constructive feedback--especially the kind you don't want to hear--or to the ideas, opinions, and expertise of others (including those below them) is non-existent. The internal world they operate in is an ego-system, not an ecosystem. Unfortunately, if you've ever worked with this type of leader, it can be exhausting.

What horrendous leadership traits clearly float to the top for you? Add your own to the list in the comments.

Published on: May 2, 2017
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