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Sunday, September 20, 2020

Executive Insider

What to do if you’re a bad boss

Michelle Gibbings

Being a leader today isn’t easy. Leaders are facing unchartered territory, an uncertain business environment and economic challenges the like of which many will never have experienced before.

At the same time, there’s competing demands, shifting expectations, and a never-ending list of projects and priorities.

Little wonder that many leaders struggle to be the best leader they can be. Countless studies confirm this.  Gallup reported in 2017 that 82 per cent of employees find their leaders uninspiring, only 15 per cent of employees are engaged at work, and only one in three employees strongly agree that they trust the leadership of their organisation. Most bosses don’t wake up in the morning and think, ‘My goal today is to be a horrible boss and to make the working day for my team members hell’. Yet it frequently works out that way. Why?

As a boss or a leader, you may be ill-equipped for the role, working for a boss who puts unreasonable demands on you or in a toxic environment and struggling to handle the pressure. It may be that you’re unaware of the impact you’re having on your team and colleagues. Whatever the reason, change starts with you.

Assess where you are at

The best leaders proactively seek feedback and continually assess their effectiveness. Making time to assess your leadership doesn’t automatically catapult you into a ‘good boss’ category. It does, however, make you someone who’s interested and invested in being the best leader they can be.

Make a plan to improve

Every person is unique, which means every leader is unique. The action you need to take to elevate your leadership is different from what other people around you may need to do. This is about creating your own personal playbook filled with strategies and tactics that put you in the best possible position to lead with integrity, authenticity and courage.

Get busy, on purpose

There are many simple things leaders can do to make a difference.

It starts with:

  1. Be friendly and greet people when you come in to work in the morning.  A simple ‘hello’ goes a long way
  2. Take an interest in your team.  Find out what matters to them and know their interests, family and other relevant events
  3. Whether you work in open plan or an office, take the time regularly to wander the floor and check in on how people are doing
  4. Don’t cancel one on one meetings.  There will be occasions when you may need to change a meeting with a direct report, but when you do this regularly the team member feels under-
  5. Pick up the phone and say ‘thank you’ and ‘well done’ to people in your team.

These actions demonstrate that you respect, value and appreciate your team, going a step towards helping you become a better leader.


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Michelle Gibbings
Michelle Gibbings is a workplace expert, working with global leaders to build workplaces where leaders and employees thrive and great things happen. Michelle is the Author of 'Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work', 'Career Leap: How to Reinvent and Liberate your Career' and the new book 'Bad Boss: What to do if you work for one, manage one or are one'. Michelle Gibbings is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow her on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.