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15 Warning Signs You’re Working for the Wrong Leader

15 Warning Signs You’re Working for the Wrong Leader

In life, there are leaders, and there are followers. If you’re not leading, you need to figure out who you’re following. Take a look at your leader and be honest, because if they match too many of these traits, you’re following the wrong leader. Be careful when judging, however, because it’s always possible the problem is actually you.

1. Your Leader Is Always Negative

Every day, you’re given nothing but bad news. Instead of starting every morning and week focusing on your team’s accomplishments, a bad leader focuses on the failures. You don’t need to be told 20 times a day about your every mistake. If you are, it’s time to move on.

2. You Receive No Encouragement

Criticism is fine every so often, but a leader should be providing encouragement to followers. If you feel like you’re constantly working as hard as possible but only end up with mundane projects that insult your intelligence, you may be working for the wrong leader.

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3. You’re Never Thanked

It’s not that recognition should be a driving force in your career, but it’s nice when people show common courtesy. I thank people for getting my order right, holding a door open, giving me food, etc. This leads to a lot of thanking throughout the day. You don’t need an Oscars ceremony, but if you’re not being thanked at work, your boss lacks proper manners.

4. Your Leader Can’t See the Future

Does it feel like nothing ever changes? If you’re still following Draconian rules, your leader is likely looking backward. You can’t move forward while looking back, so move on.

5. You’re Not Trusted

At the beginning of your career, it’s natural for the boss to hold your hand. You’re new, nobody knows you, and you don’t really know what you’re doing, no matter what you think you learned in school. If you’ve been there five years, and you still aren’t trusted to do your job unsupervised, you have the wrong leader.

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6. Your Workplace Is Disorganized

Things change every day, and that’s just the way life works, whether we like it or not. This chaos has to be caged in a solid foundation of habits and schedules. If your team isn’t a well-oiled machine, it’s time to fire the leader.

7. You Have No Freedom

In the military, everything is regimented. You’re told how, when, and where to eat, sleep, and use the bathroom. Even in that environment, you’re given the freedom to take a break when you need to or accomplish a task by any means. If you’re stuck to a script, you’re following the wrong leader.

8. Your Leader Doesn’t Make Decisions

Delegation is important – it’s how a leader guides a small team to accomplish the work of a large army. In order for a body to work, it needs a brain. If your leader needs you to make decisions for them, you’re the leader.

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9. Your Leader’s Decisions Are Uninformed

The only thing worse than someone indecisive is someone who makes terrible decisions. The losing general in a battle is the one who underestimates the value of enemy intelligence. If you’re behind someone who just throws out any answer, you probably shouldn’t follow them.

10. You’re Constantly Ignored

Some organizations have a suggestion box; others have an open-door policy. Either way, they need a way for you to voice your opinions and be heard. If nobody’s listening, why are you still following?

11. You Lack Consistent Guidance

Not every order needs to come with a syllabus and training manual, but the way you’re provided instructions and feedback should remain consistent. If you’re in trouble one day for talking too much and the next for not talking enough, you have the wrong leader.

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12. You’re Kept in the Dark

It doesn’t matter who you work for, you need to know what’s going on. The reason the banks get away with financial fraud is because they don’t tell people what they’re doing – they only do their one part of the job, never getting a full picture of the loan. If you’re following blindly, there’s a reason, and it usually ain’t good.

13. Your Leader Is Behind You

Now that he’s finally dead, we can all discuss how terrible a leader Joffrey Baratheon is. His worst trait is he never led from the front lines – instead he chose to hide behind his power. If you work for a Joffrey, play the game of thrones.

14. You Take the Blame

It’s cute when your significant other blames you to get out of attending pretty much anything, but your boss should never be blaming you. If you find yourself taking the fall for your leader, stop following your leader.

15. You’re Following the Leader…The Leader…The Leader…

The absolute worst leader is the unknown leader. Nobody knows who’s in charge, and everyone absolves themselves from blame. This is a great scenario when you’re a terrible leader, but for everyone else, it completely sucks having no avenue of recourse. These leaders need to stop blaming “corporate” or “management,” and take responsibility for their actions.

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Last Updated on April 9, 2020

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common types of leadership and how you can determine which works best for you.

5 Types of Leadership Styles

I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

The Democratic Style

The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

    The Autocratic Style

    The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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    The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

    While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

      The Transformational Style

      Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

      Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

      Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

        The Transactional Style

        Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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        The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

        The Laissez-Faire Style

        The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

        In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

        Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

        You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

        Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

        The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

        Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

        I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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        In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

        What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

        Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

        1. Context Matters

        Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

        2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

        When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

        As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

        “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

        The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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        As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

        When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

        The Way Forward

        To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

        As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

        “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

        The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

        If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

        Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

        Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

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        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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