What’s the one factor that affects how engaged and committed you are to your work? According to a whole bunch (very scientific term) of research, it’s your direct supervisor. Simply put, the better the leader, the happier and more engaged the workforce. From an organizational standpoint, effective leaders positively impact productivity, reduce turnover, and improve morale. Yet, despite the obvious benefits, many companies are riddled with bad bosses.
Here are 5 red flags that point to bad leadership:
Leaders with narcissistic tendencies often exhibit destructive behaviors, such as arrogance, animosity, and domineering mannerisms. Driven by a need for power, they
yearn for admiration and approval from others. They find it difficult to tolerate criticism or dissenting opinions and often become abrasive with those who dare voice a differing point of view. Narcissists are not known for their listening skills — believing the opinions of subordinates to be irrelevant. Believing they are above the rules, they are often ruthlessly competitive and will likely do whatever it takes to stay on top.
“One of the most important leadership lessons is realizing you’re not the most important or the most intelligent person in the room at all times.” — Mario Batali
Binary view of people
Top-down power structures often promote the idea that everyone is replaceable. Employees are viewed as expenses rather than assets, and there is little consideration for their happiness or well-being. Leaders within this type of environment often show very little compassion or empathy to subordinates. Working for a leader with this mentality can elevate stress, turnover, absenteeism, and burnout. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and finding it difficult to get out of bed in the morning, it might have something to do with who’s leading you.
“Profits are the applause you get for taking care of your people.” — Ken Blanchard
A lack of transparency can turn even the best employee sour. When information is repeatedly withheld, it’s a sign of a leader with an ego problem. This type of behavior can create mistrust and frustration on the part of the employee, and often, can become a leading cause of turnover within the organization. It’s common sense that trust is a foundational component of any good relationship, and this includes those within the professional world. Without it, engagement and commitment cannot form. It’s easy to see the pattern. Transparency builds trust. Trust builds engagement. Engagement builds commitment, and committed employees are happy employees.
“Trust happens when leaders are transparent. — Jack Welch
Autocracy can breed one of the worst environments within which to work. Leaders who exhibit overbearing behaviors stifle creativity and productivity due to their need to maintain control over all decisions. Often, employees working in this type of environment report feeling unmotivated to learn new skills or information, and as a result, the department or organization stops developing. Not only does this hinder individual progress, it also limits efficiency and impedes growth for the company. Therefore, it’s in the best interest of both the workforce and the organization to identify micromanaging leadership and remove it from power.
“A good leader takes care of those in their charge. A bad leader takes charge of those in their care.” — Simon Sinek
Another sure-fire way to discourage efficiency and performance is to use fear as a means of motivation. Poor leaders often use scare tactics to try to get employees to toe the line. Again, backed by ample research (and common sense), it is well understood that fear causes stress, and stress stifles productivity. Creating a cultural norm of fear can cause employees to go into self-protective mode. Sometimes, organizations promote this type of leadership because employees learn to keep their heads down — creating the appearance of a hardworking or diligent workforce. In reality, they are simply attempting to survive.
“He makes a great mistake … who supposes that authority is firmer or better established when it is founded by force than that which is welded by affection.” — Terence
How can you make the best of a bad situation?
Working under a leader with even one of these characteristics can be harmful to your well-being. If you find yourself struggling to thrive under a boss who could use a lot of help, here are a few tips to make the job more bearable.
Know what you can control
When we’re stressed, it’s really easy to point out all of the things we find challenging about the boss, the job, or the company. However, doing so will likely only cause you to focus on the negative aspects of your current situation. Instead, try to focus on the things you can do to make your work better. Are there steps you can take to create efficiency in your work? Are there aspects of your job you enjoy, and if so, how can you emphasize those? Is there an opportunity to improve or bring joy to someone else’s work? Looking for ways to positively influence a less-than-ideal environment may not result in significant organizational epiphanies, but it will allow you (and hopefully others) to thrive and grow in the midst of a negative situation.
Keep your eye on the ball
My deepest apologies for the sports analogy, but we all know working under poor leadership can be demotivating, depressing, and frustrating. Lessen the effects of a bad work environment by choosing to focus on the things that foster intrinsic fulfillment, such as delivering results or producing work you can be proud of. Find ways to use your talents and resources to promote creativity and positivity in your work and in the work of others. Not only will this allow you to feel good about the results, it will help you add value and stand out — which is always beneficial if you choose to search for a position better aligned with your values and cultural preferences.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, staying positive can feel impossible. We’re all human, after all, and we occasionally need to let go of our frustrations. Just make sure you do so in a healthy way. Reaching out to your mentor or close friend to talk through the situation can be therapeutic. If that isn’t an option, try seeking professional help in the form of a licensed counselor or therapist. Often, simply vocalizing your discontentment can help you decide how to proceed. No matter the path you choose, it’s important to remember that your happiness can only be determined by your attitude and resiliency during difficult times.
We would like to thank Whitney Lane for this post, Click Here to check out her website!