Two decades ago I had a front-row seat to witnessing the leadership skills of two executive-level managers to whom I reported. This was a case of two polar-opposite styles as different as the cultures they helped create.
The first manager’s style led to a fear-based pressure cooker that emotionally disengaged employees from doing and being their best. The second boss, where I clearly fit with the culture, led by serving the needs of employees to do and be their best.
Based on personal experiences and recollection, I’m highlighting in list form seven common habits that led to one manager’s success and the other manager’s downfall:
The Bad Habits
- Did not value employees as human beings but only saw them as functions and a means to an end (profit).
- Showed little interest in their goals, aspirations, and career interests.
- Gave little or no feedback on performance, so employees had no means of measuring how well they were doing on a given day or in a given week to gauge their progress.
- Fostered a “sink or swim” environment with little support, setting up newer employees for failure early on.
- Communicated through passive-aggressive means, often using other people to deliver the message.
- Made snap judgments and assumptions without looking into all sides of an issue, or taking in various perspectives before making a decision.
- Created silos and stimulated opposing agendas between people and departments.
The Good Habits
- Fostered a sense of community and belonging for the team. We felt like a family.
- Communicated clearly the purpose of our work. We understood why and how our work mattered.
- Gave us regular feedback and recognition of our performance.
- Provided opportunities for professional development and growth; stretched us with tasks that expanded our knowledge and sharpened our skills.
- Gave us a voice to be heard. We felt like our ideas and suggestions mattered, which led to a positive employee experience.
- Mentored us daily to ensure that we were being equipped to perform at the highest level.
- Shared information openly and let every employee know absolutely everything about the business.
It’s pretty clear to this day, and even more relevant now. When managers take care of the needs of employees, they’ll be motivated to perform at a higher level. This does require one prerequisite: hiring and promoting more people-centered leaders with the capacity to connect with other human beings on both an emotional as well as intellectual level.
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