The Only Way Clueless Leaders Change
April 21, 2015

The Only Way Clueless Leaders Change

by Brian de Haaff

I wrote about The 3 Worst Habits of Clueless Leaders on Sunday. The response was unbelievable and is still growing as I write this. It seems that clueless leaders are wreaking havoc on a larger scale than I initially thought.

More than 430,000 people read the post, and more than 450 of you took the time to comment. Many readers agreed that the three top habits of clueless leaders were changing direction on a whim, expecting the impossible, and not respecting the time of employees. Some readers added more clueless habits to the list.

Here are some of my favorite contributions:

Actually there is one more bad habit — the boss who doesn’t know squat and stands in your way, preventing you from getting the job done.
This is so true in very large corporations. One day 1 + 1 = 2 and the next day 1 + 1= 4. Bad managers change the rules, change the vision, alienate employees, good and bad. Love the article.

Several readers wished they could slip this article under their boss’s door to help change their ways. Like this last point which really started me thinking.

These are really critical concepts. Leaders at all levels need this type of insight regarding the impact of their behavior, and should have the courage to look into the mirror and actually doing something about what they see.

Like this reader wisely said, leaders need the courage to recognize and change the behavior that is driving their employees to the crazy house. If you are in a leadership position, it is time to wake up to the fact that your employees may be miserable.

Now that your eyes have been opened, you may be thinking, how do I go about changing my ways? The answer is right in front of you.

The first step is recognizing that you have a problem and admitting that with a little focus you can change.

It is time to develop an action plan and set it in motion. You have to change if you want to be a better leader. Here are three simple steps to get back on track:

Start small Reach for the easiest behavior to change first. Rid yourself of a few seemingly harmless habits that add up to a collective nightmare for your employees. No more funny looks at colleagues. No more ignoring your employees’ requests until your mailbox is full. Pick one habit to start with, and then take on another. Your employees will start to notice, and you will see the mood in the office begin to lift.

Show appreciation When was the last time you thanked your employees for their contributions to the team? Saying “Thank you” is easy, but you might need to swallow your pride first. Go ahead, practice it right now: “Thank you.” If any employee is feeling under-appreciated, these two small words go a long way towards healing that hurt. Since gratitude is a contagious attitude, your employees may start returning the thanks.

Get help To tackle your more egregious behavior, you may need to apply extra effort. Read everything you can get your hands on about managing people and then apply it to your own leadership style. You may even need a mentor — someone whose leadership style you admire — to teach you some of the finer points of leadership. Use all the resources you have available to you help you change your ways.

Your plan of action will go a long way toward creating a better working environment for everyone. Do not beat yourself up if drastic change does not happen overnight. Once your employees realize you are earnestly trying to change, they will be more patient with you.

I urge you to take on the challenge to become the best leader you can be. You will bring out the best in your team and in the process, bring out the best in yourself.

Once you realize the humbling privilege and responsibility you have as a leader, you can start working to become the type of person and boss you will be proud of.

How have you seen difficult bosses change?

Brian de Haaff

Brian de Haaff

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 product development software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability and The Startup Adventure newsletter. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the journey of pursuing a meaningful life.

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