Have you ever been led by a “bad leader”?
I know the term can be defined many ways, but just think about it based on what you think a “bad leader” is.
Have you ever been led by someone who you felt was a “bad leader”?
It’s beyond frustrating to be in that position. And yet, most leaders at some point will deal with something internal that limits the growth of their team – most leaders will at some point exhibit the qualities of a “bad leader.”
In that moment, their team will be put in an awkward position: do they reach out and offer to help and risk upsetting the balance, or do they move forward with a kink in the works that limits their potential?
It serves your team well for you to perform some hard self-analysis. Take a look at this list of ways a leader can hinder their team’s growth and see if they sound familiar:
Desire for Control
There was a time when I thought “leadership” and “control” were basically the same thing.
I thought my job description involved directing and demanding. And there are many modern leaders who think that same way. Unfortunately, my team suffered for my misconception, and teams under micromanaging leaders will suffer also.
To be fair, there are elements of positional leadership that require giving guidance – but that is one thing, and control is something else entirely.
It is not a leader’s job to determine every action performed by their employees. In fact, John Maxwell says that good leaders are indispensable, while great leaders are dispensable.
It sounds backward, but hear me out!
Great leaders help their teams grow their ability and scope to the point that the leader becomes free to move onto the next level up in positional leadership… great leaders create win-win situations for themselves and their teams.
They themselves achieve another level of leadership and career achievement while their team gains the confidence and capacity to produce more and better.
If the day-to-day operations of your team would fall apart without you, you may be seeking too much control. Look for ways to empower your employees, and you will end up empowering yourself, too.
No one alive is done growing – period. At every point in all of our lives, there will be things that we must confront inside ourselves; there will be questions we might not think to ask and when we finally ask them, answers we don’t have on-hand.
Everyone is a work in progress.
However, some leaders may feel especially unprepared to fulfill their role. They may not feel they have the skills or expertise to do their job. This kind of insecurity, like all fears, can warp the leader’s vision and hinder the growth of the team.
If you find there are strong leaders on your team stepping up to help with certain elements of your job, it may be because they see gaps in your ability. It is also possible that you are underutilizing them as a resource.
It can be difficult not to see this as a challenge to you, but keep in mind that we are all growing. See their input and understand what their offer may be saying to you. Honor their initiative and accept their help.
When it comes to empowering employees, remember: a rising tide lifts all ships!
Lack of Awareness
This is probably the most frustrating leadership weakness any of us might struggle with.
All of these and more internal issues can keep the team from growing – but if we know we are dealing with insecurity or control issues, we can deal with them directly.
But if we lack awareness, we don’t know what to look for. We could look the symptoms right in the face and now know how to read them. We don’t know what we don’t know.
This is where your team’s wealth of perspective becomes very valuable.
See how they respond and react to you; take cues from their behavior toward you to understand how they relate to your leadership. Then, ask them for some direct feedback.
What skills might they have that they have not been given the chance to fully express? Do you have problems that they can potentially solve? How do they feel about their role and how it relates to your role?
Keep an open mind and honestly, fairly, assess their input. This is the fastest path to increased awareness and by that awareness, increased leadership capacity.
Spend some time in reflection this week. Do it without self-judgment; like I said, we are all growing. And exhibiting “bad leadership symptoms” doesn’t make you a bad leader. It makes you an imperfect work-in-progress human being, which should not be news to you!
But, prepare yourself for some hard introspection. Like surgery, sometimes going deep gets messy, but it’s necessary.
That’s all for now.
Until next time,
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