How Leaders Can Avoid the “Bad Boss” Mentality

February 16, 2023

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Overview: Bad bosses come in many shapes and sizes. Some are bullies. Others won’t hesitate to take credit for the work reports do. Leadership coaching can help leaders recognize the derailing behaviors that can turn them into bad bosses. It can help them adopt behaviors and principles that elevate their leadership to higher levels.

With few exceptions, we’ve all had our fair share of bad bosses. The overbearing bully who sees the office as a jungle where only the fittest survive; the sneaky operator who doesn’t hesitate to take credit for our work; and the micromanager constantly keeping an eye on what employees do. They’re all familiar characters.

Bad bosses are the number one reason why some people hate their jobs. By being a bad boss, leaders can ruin the productivity of organizations and boost employee turnover.

In the age of intelligent leadership and leadership coaching, bad bosses have no place at or near the top of organizational hierarchies. Let’s see how you can avoid devolving into one.

Types of Bad Bosses

Before delving into practices and behaviors that keep leaders from becoming bad bosses, it doesn’t hurt to look into what makes a leader a bad boss.

The Competitor

This type of bad boss sees employees as competitors and uses his or her position of authority to compete with them. Quick to claim credit for the work employees complete, these bad bosses do whatever they can to keep employees in their places.

The Micromanager

Micromanagement is the death of employee empowerment. Micromanaging leaders struggle with insecurities that prevent them from letting go of the wheel and allowing someone else to take charge of anything.

Micromanagement hinders productivity and robs employees of the chance to control anything. Killing employee empowerment leads to a lack of motivation and quicker employee turnover.

The Pleaser

Some leaders are so employee-focused they’d do anything to please reports. They feel an insatiable need to be liked. While seeking to fulfill that need, they lose sight of leadership responsibilities that require decisiveness and quick action.

The Hands-off Guy

The opposites of micromanagers, hands-off leaders hand everything to reports and assume zero responsibility. Leadership coaching sees such bad bosses as immature and incapable of comprehending the roles of leaders.

The Bully

Bullies have reverted to more subtle practices due to anti-harassment and employee-protecting labor laws. A bully leader seeks to bring down employees instead of helping, inspiring, and motivating them. From the perspective of executive coaching, such behavior defeats the raison d’etre of leadership.

How to Avoid the Bad Boss Mentality

Executive coaching is about helping leaders recognize ways in which they can deepen their impacts on organizations and the lives of the people they lead.

Reflection and Self-Awareness

As the source of emotional intelligence, self-awareness is the root of intelligent leadership. Self-awareness leads to self-reflection and healing. Self-aware leaders understand why they engage in destructive behaviors and find ways to reshape their tendencies.

Focusing on Psychological Safety

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Creativity and motivation can’t exist without psychological safety.

A lack of psychological safety can turn workplaces into hell for employees. Leaders who recognize the importance of psychological safety encourage reports to take risks. They treat setbacks as learning opportunities, ensuring employees who make mistakes learn from them and improve.

Facilitating Back-and-Forth Feedback

Active listening is a great tool leaders can use to build trust. Leaders should listen to feedback employees provide with the intention of acting on it. Everyone likes to contribute. Employees who feel heard also feel validated and motivated.

Adopting a Growth and Abundance Mindset

A growth-focused mindset sees leaders, employees, and organizations as work-in-progress projects. It reserves room for improvement and finds ways to develop competence, leadership abilities, organizational cultures, and team competencies.

The abundance mindset prevents people from seeing peers and reports as competitors. It understands success is not a zero-sum game and the rising tide floats every boat.

Positive leaders focus on the strengths of employees, seeking to help everyone succeed. They understand their missions are not to achieve personal glory but to help others be in alignment with the purposes and values of their organizations.

Contact us to learn more about how you can join the IL Movement as a coach or how you can benefit from partnering with us to bring IL Solutions to you and your organization.

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