What does it take to motivate and inspire people in this day and age? Certainly not carrot-and-stick methods. Even worse, fear-based tactics that are relics of the industrial age.

To truly lead well in the 21st century requires a better understanding of how people are wired on a human, emotional, and psychological level. Check yourself against five common mistakes that managers still make today.

1. You are a control freak.

A person with bad leadership skills micromanages to the last detail. The environment for employees can become overbearing and stifling because the boss wants control over every decision.

The boss with control issues distrusts the team and doesn't delegate; there's no room for group discussion or input because the management style is autocratic. In turn, creativity or learning something new is absent under this dictatorship. 

2. You don't give employees feedback.

A manager's inability to give employees feedback is a problem because when team members aren't receiving feedback regularly they start to wonder why. Employees are humans and they need to know how they are performing.

Setting high expectations for team members by giving feedback ensures they know how valued and valuable they are, and, when feedback is backed by action on behalf of team members, it increases loyalty and trust in workers.

3. You display a bad temper (or a condescending attitude).

According to a 2018 BambooHR survey of more than 1,000 US-based employees, 44% of survey respondents listed their boss as the primary reason for quitting. What characteristics of their boss made these employees leave? Here are the top five:

  1. Management Style - 37%
  2. Condescending Attitude - 30%
  3. Mean or Had a Bad Temper - 30%
  4. Inappropriate Behavior - 26%
  5. Harassed Employees - 24%

4. You go radio silent. 

Human beings tend to have a negative reaction to anything that seems like a threat--it's in our nature. When managers go radio silent and missing in action, it makes people feel like their job is at risk, causing them either to shut down or walk on eggshells and go on stealth mode.

In any case, you can bet that they'll be performing worse, not better. That's why regular feedback (see item #2) should be ingrained into every manager's daily habits. It pumps fear and doubts out of the atmosphere and releases team members from the mental shackles of wondering if they should be updating their résumés.

5. You just don't care enough about your people.

As a leader, it is critically important to show your employees that they are valued and cared for. Out of the many practical ways you can show that you care, here are four crucial conversations you can have today to make an immediate impact in their hearts and minds:

  • Ask them what they enjoy doing most in their job, and why, to truly "get"  what makes them feel satisfied in their roles. 
  • Have a meaningful conversation about how they were doing, how they feel about their work, and whether they are happy. 
  • Talk about their future with the organization and explore different career paths and their interests.  
  • Create opportunities for them to use their strengths, gifts, and talents.