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.
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.
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.
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.
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.