Since corporations and institutions started cutting training budgets twenty years ago, leadership training has become a rare and precious thing for those managers lucky enough to experience it.
Years ago every company of any size had a fancy training center and trainees zipping in and out of classrooms all the time, learning how to do their jobs more effectively.
Now it is hard to get the training you need at work — and even harder to learn about abstract topics like “How to be a leader.”
The best organizations know that people don’t become leaders just because they got promoted. They take leadership development seriously.
However, lots of other employers don’t. They delude themselves that new managers will learn how to lead employees on their own, without guidance or instruction.
There is another reason there are so many poor managers around, and that is that many of the people who might be coaching and inspiring young leaders don’t understand leadership themselves.
They think that being a leader means telling people what to do.
Any fool can bark out orders. A real leader is someone who takes the time and invests the energy to build trust on a team.
Trust will take a team much further than fear ever could!
Here are ten things true leaders do:
- They listen to their team members.
- They coach employees rather than threatening them with a poor performance review or dismissal.
- They trust their employees to do their jobs without close supervision.
- They are open to and grateful for new ideas.
- They encourage their teammates.
- They bring important issues to senior leadership to be dealt with. They are not afraid to broach sticky or politically-sensitive topics — or maybe they are afraid, but they do it anyway.
- They thank and acknowledge their team members.
- They inspire people to do great things.
- They hire people who are skilled in areas they’re not skilled in.
- They lead through trust, rather than fear.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of managers around who manage in just the opposite way.
They manage through fear.
Who else do we know that uses fear to get their way? Bullies do it! Most of us have been dealing with bullies since we were little kids.
We can recognize a fearful, weak manager when we run into one because they remind us of schoolyard bullies we knew years ago.
A true leader doesn’t bully anyone. They don’t need to, and they wouldn’t dream of it. It would beneath them to threaten or harangue their employees.
Fake leaders bully people all the time. They don’t have the muscles to manage any other way. They are weak.
It doesn’t take strength to yell at people, write them up or blame them for mistakes.
It doesn’t take courage to boss people around when the organizational chart gives you the power to do that. It is the height of cowardice to manage a team with the presumption that they have to listen to you, because of your job title relative to theirs.
That isn’t leadership! That is letting your job title do the job for you.
Managers who bluster and threaten people are weak.
Is your boss a weak manager? Here are five signs they are:
Five Signs Your Boss Is A Weak Manager
- When something goes wrong, the weak manager immediately looks for someone to blame.
- When an employee makes a suggestion, the weak manager says “That’s not your job!” or “If I wanted your opinion, I’d ask for it!” Why does a weak manager react this way? They’re afraid! They are afraid a lowly employee might have a better idea than they had.
- A weak manager manages through policies, spreadsheets and edicts. They don’t listen. They don’t care about building trusting relationships with their teammates — or maybe they’re not capable of doing that.
- A weak manager makes it clear that employees serve at his or her pleasure and can be replaced at any time. Why would any manager be so cruel, or so stupid? Employees who feel threatened cannot produce great work. Weak managers use fear as a control mechanism because of their own fear. If they didn’t keep employees worrying about their job security, the employees might start telling more truth than the weak manager can handle!
- Weak managers cannot look in the mirror. They cannot admit to having made a mistake and therefore, they cannot learn anything new.
If your manager is a weakling, what can you do?
Maybe your weak manager will experience a powerful life event that will turn their head around, but I wouldn’t recommend that you hold your breath waiting for that to happen.
Your best bet is to launch a job search and get out from under a weak manager.
Your flame will never grow as high as it can grow when you work under someone whose greatest fear is that one day, you will find your voice.