By Sarah LaFon
Borrowman Baker, LLC, BV Staffing + Consulting
You’ve probably heard: the number one reason people leave their jobs is due to a bad boss or supervisor. This applies in the BV profession as well.
The people we interview may have a variety of reasons for thinking about a job change (compensation, location/commute, limited growth potential, etc), but nothing seems to motivate the desire to “get the heck outta Dodge” more than having a boss who is a complete jerk. Nobody wants to think such negative things about themselves, but taking the time to pause and self-assess might help you uncover something about yourself that would be beneficial to change.
Here’s a few questions to ask yourself about your leadership style:
- Have you gotten ahead through intimidation? If your normal conversational style is loud and aggressive, and you ALWAYS need to have the last word: there’s a good chance that people around you feel intimidated.
- When faced with criticism, do you react impulsively? The knee-jerk reaction to criticism is to get defensive and overreact. Take a few breaths, practice some patience, and evaluate the situation at hand before choosing a course of action.
- Do you play the victim? When faced with criticism or opposing views, do you take on a “woe is me” attitude? It is hard for employees to respect a leader who lacks the fortitude to take on a few difficulties with maturity and composure.
- Do you find a way to blame your failures on others? It’s a sign of a bad leader who always finds a way to blame a failed project on employees in the weakest position. If you are leading a team, ultimately you are the last line of defense and should find a way to help shoulder the blame, even if the failure was truly “not your fault”.
- Do you take credit for others’ successes? This is definitely a hallmark jerky move. While leeching the good ideas of your staff might help you get ahead, it definitely doesn’t promote goodwill. You will likely end up alienating and losing good people from your department, as they seek the validation they deserve somewhere else.
- Do you have negative body language? Evaluate your body position when employees approach you with a problem, suggestion, or even criticism. Are you relaxed and attentive, or do you find yourself with crossed arms, furrowed eyebrows, and rolling eyes? An intimidating body position can diminish the quality of your communication with others, even if it is unintentional.
- Do you say “no” when others ask you for help? Well, this is pretty self-explanatory. If you are in a leadership position, you likely received a leg-up from someone along the way. You have plenty of your own work to do, of course, but helping someone else benefits the whole company and strengthens your reputation as a reliable and trustworthy boss. And, that leads to significantly less turnover.
While it is true that success isn’t a popularity contest, lacking self-awareness can end up badly hurting your reputation and career. Consider a few steps to evaluate how you are doing. One idea is to gather anonymous assessments from both peers and colleagues, and be sure to ask some open-ended questions about your leadership style. The results might surprise you – and they might sting a little – but taking the steps to make some positive changes will lead to a happier workplace for yourself and everyone around you.