Toxic, low-performing teams are usually a symptom of a bigger problem — managers who aren't qualified to lead. The wrong people get promoted when companies don't have a system in place to measure and develop leadership skills, and employees suffer the consequences of poor guidance, morale and teamwork. Whether you're job-hunting or dealing with a new boss, learn to spot common signs of bad leadership skills and avoid hostile work environments.
1. Control Freaks
Micromanagers who try to control everything often lack confidence and behave distrustfully toward employees. These overbearing leaders are fearful of getting blamed for team failures, so they hate to delegate or take input from workers. Don't be surprised if a controlling boss double-checks all your work and second-guesses every decision while denying any opportunity for you to take charge or show creativity. Start searching for a new job if you desire challenges and growth, as a control freak cares about self-preservation more than team development and innovation.
2. Information Hoarders
Leaders who hoard information and tell half-truths create an atmosphere of fear and suspicion. Some hoarders enjoy wielding power over employees, while others simply don't have the leadership skills to communicate unpopular information with tact. Whatever the case, workers never know what to expect in the future, making them less motivated to give their best effort and share good ideas. If poor transparency pervades the entire organization, employees lose respect for upper management and start looking out for their individual interests.
Narcissists come in many forms, but they're always self-centered bullies who are intimidated by others' success. Egotistical bosses lack core leaderships skills, such as compassion, accountability and self-awareness, so they have a tendency to belittle workers in public or use threats and mind games to get results.
Armed with a high sense of entitlement and little consideration for others, a narcissistic boss can easily destroy your credibility by passing blame and taking credit for your work. Getting out of this type of chronically hostile work environment is the best way to protect your emotional and physical well-being.
Fault-finders have two common traits — they look for flaws in everything you do and never give recognition for good work. Managers with strong leadership skills understand the connection between praise and productivity, and they aren't afraid to acknowledge someone else's talents and contributions.
On the other hand, thankless bosses don't offer encouragement or even a simple "nice job" to show appreciation, no matter how you go beyond the call of duty to help your team. If recognition drives your productivity and job satisfaction, working with a fault-finder is likely to kill your passion over time.
5. Number Crunchers
Number crunchers are basically robots in business casual clothing. These rigid bosses only care about the bottom line and have no sympathy for your workload or recurring obstacles on the job. Since they view workers as mere commodities, number crunchers don't bother solving problems unless they see an obvious financial benefit for themselves. Don't expect any loyalty or support because detached managers don't stick up for employees who don't meet their impossible goals.
Good leadership skills aren't a given. Learn to identify effective managers and mimic their behavior, so you can draw on positive experiences once you land a leadership role.
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