Ever notice how everyone in a workplace knows who the bad boss is—except the bad boss? If you’re supervising others, and you’re frustrated with their performance, it’s possible that the problem isn’t your team. You could be the not-so-great boss.
Truthfully, every boss has areas for growth. Most bosses have strong qualities as well as opportunities for improvement. But a great boss consistently exemplifies strong leadership and management qualities.
Our infographic, Are You a Great Boss or a Not-So-Great Boss, highlights the common traits of both kinds of bosses. It also reveals the difference between leadership and management—and explains why you need both.
10 Traits of a Not-So-Great Boss
Could you be exhibiting characteristics of a not-so-great boss without realizing it? Review the traits below and ask yourself if you have any areas for improvement.
1. Creates confusion: They tell you what to do, but not why it’s important.
Do your people seem to always be clueless about high-priority items? Do they simply not get it? You could be creating confusion. Be purposeful about communicating the why as well as the what—and communicate it often.
2. Never has time for you: They don’t take time to give you the information you need to do a good job.
Maybe your team understands why something is important, but they still don’t deliver quality work. There are gaps they haven’t filled in, responsibilities that are only partially fulfilled, or people they haven’t communicated with. These are signs that you haven’t given your people all the information they need to do their jobs. Be purposeful in your communication—make sure you fully debrief them at the start, and be available for questions and problem-solving throughout the project.
3. Micromanages: They take on tasks that they’ve hired you to do and focus on fighting fires all day.
If you’re guilty of this practice, you’re probably feeling exhausted and burned out, and you secretly (or not so secretly) point fingers at your team for not being reliable. Instead, hold them accountable. Assign to-dos, and check in after a week to confirm they were done. If someone doesn’t do a task, don’t take it from them but ask them what they need to be able to complete it.
4. Puts themselves first: They take credit when things go right, and lay blame when things go wrong.
As legendary coach Bo Schembechler said, “No man is more important than the team. No coach is more important than the team. The team, the team, the team.” Always give credit and praise to your people, every chance you have.
5. Lives in the moment: They’re working “in” the business, and not reflecting on what’s working and not working.
Are you being sucked into moment-by-moment decision-making and firefighting? Stop and spend time working “on” your business in order to crystallize your vision, gain traction, and create team health.
6. Is inconsistent: They communicate a “my way or the highway” message without stating clear expectations.
Do you find yourself making ultimatums without investing resources and aid to help your people succeed? Spend less time threatening and more time equipping your team.
7. Overuses email and texting: They avoid having face-to-face dialogue to resolve issues.
Some messages can be sent through text or email, but if you’re avoiding in-person conversation, that should be a red flag that you have team issues to resolve.
8. Holds ineffective meetings: They call ad hoc meetings that are filled with discussion, and little resolution.
You can have effective meetings that empower your team to be more successful. Follow this plan for leading world-class meetings.
9. Infrequently reviews performance: They give feedback once a year, leaving you guessing for the other 364 days.
Conduct quarterly conversations with your direct reports. The conversation should center on how well the employee is living the company values and how well they are doing their job.
10. Rarely shows appreciation: They don’t say thank you or recognize you when you’ve done a great job.
Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” The same is true for your team. High praise yields high performance.
Next Steps to Becoming a Great Boss
How did you do? Maybe some of these hit a bit too close to home. That’s okay—Gino Wickman and René Boer have written a new book, How to Be a Great Boss, that explains how to become a manager and leader that gets the best out of your people.
- Download a PDF version of this infographic to print or hang in your office
- Download a free chapter of How to Be a Great Boss by Gino Wickman and René Boer
- Download the How to Be a Great Boss Toolkit – full of tools to help you lead, manage, and create accountability
- Order your own copy of How to Be a Great Boss
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