Are you a bad boss? Here are 5 tyrannical management traits to avoid » SMEInsider

Are you a bad boss? Here are 5 tyrannical management traits to avoid

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Employees like to complain about their bosses so much, most of them could take it up as their full-time job. Typically, the worst bosses in these anecdotes are ones who have no idea they are bad in the first place.

Sadly, the bad leadership situation is particularly bad in small-businesses. This is an inherent problem. Small business will have small teams and therefore employees may feel uncomfortable providing critical feedback in such a microscopic environment, especially when they think it could slow their career progression.

Moreover, it is likely to be an issue of training and leadership experience. Larger companies can afford to run training courses and have sophisticated HR departments and protocols that smaller enterprises simply cannot afford.

Fortunately, no one is predestined to be a good boss, leadership skills can be trained and acquired over a period of time. Here are some issues to be aware of when managing employees and leading a business.


1. Failure to delegate

It is very easy to try and do everything in the company, after all it is your business. However, not delegating can create a culture of helplessness or boredom amongst employees. How can they be motivated to work when their boss doesn’t give them anything to do? Never try to do everything – prioritise. Make a list of the critical things you believe you should be involved in. What are the most important issues that will deliver the biggest results?


2. Tyrannical Rex

Being hypercritical or authoritative will not yield good results. You don’t want to be the boss who instills fear in the hearts of employees. You should never spend more time highlighting mistakes than achievements, follow every criticism or constructive feedback with recognition of a more positive performance.


3. Don’t hold people to account

Just as you shouldn’t be hypercritical, you also shouldn’t avoid providing criticisms at all. With responsibility comes accountability and it is important to see constructive feedback not as a negative, but rather as a way of getting people to feel valued. Implementing a system and process of accountability will tell people that their work matters and has consequences. Strong contributions get noticed and rewarded and sub-par performances get identified and hopefully shifted on to the right track.


4. Set impossible standards

As a boss it is understandable that you might want to cultivate an image of invincibility and think that if employees see you have weaknesses it will undermine your leadership. However, it should be borne in mind that the risk you run there is creating an environment where the standards are set impossibly high and employees will see no way of reaching them. By educating your staff about the mistakes you made before, you are training them to avoid them. Having weaknesses does not make you weak, it makes you human, and employees can tell the difference.


5. Friend first, boss second

Whilst you shouldn’t be afraid to share business mistakes you made in the past, you should be weary of trying too hard to be everyone’s friend. Employees may like you, but that may not necessarily translate into respect – and that is more important. It is a professional environment and you are their superior, whilst congeniality is a good quality to have, it should be made clear to employees that business hierarchy comes first.

  • Jutta Nedden

    Hi Ben, I work with small business owners. Yes, teams often
    suffer, yes, your list is correct and I could easily add more. However, this is
    just scratching the surface of a deeper laying issue: They don’t need your
    list, because they know very well that they don’t do a good job as a “boss”.
    They often feel guilty and beat themselves up about it (at least my clients).
    They just don’t know how to do it better. Usually, they don’t have a
    background in management or personnel development. They are drowning in work
    and are exhausted. Many of them don’t want to be a “boss” at all. They are just
    passionate about their work and want to get help with doing an even better job
    for their customers. You need to slow down and free up time for hiring,
    planning, goal-setting and relationship issues. This creates fear. What happens
    with your business in the meantime? Many of your strengths and talents as an
    entrepreneur don’t help much for this new journey as a “boss” and team leader. You
    are longing for somebody guiding you through this, holding you accountable in a
    non-judgemental way. – So, how and where can they find help? This would be
    worth an article.

    • Ben Rabinovich

      Hi Jutta,

      Thank you for your comment. I agree, small businesses are usually started by someone with an idea rather, as you say a background in management. I believe training is very important because you aren’t just born a good boss. Managing people effectively is a tough skill that is acquired over years of experience and it is important to help SME owners as much as possible.

  • Mike Harvey

    Obvious points – but very well worth reminding people of them. It is all to easy to forget, in the heat of the moment, that the reason we have staff is to share the load and allow the business to grow. Almost everyone in an organisation wants to do their best for you and the company – but you need to allow them to take ownership, responsibility and their fair share of the credit.

    • Ben Rabinovich

      I agree, the obviousness doesn’t mean it’s easy to be wary of them all the time. It requires frequent self-assessment on the boss’s part.