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8 Bad Team Leadership Habits That May Be Pushing Your Teammates Away

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Different employees have different expectations of their leader. Some want a leader who gets to know them on a personal level or checks in with them frequently, while others may want to be left alone and will reach out when they need help. 

Despite the differences in individual preferences, there are some team leadership habits that typically leave employees unengaged, frustrated and possibly, even looking for a new job. One way to learn to be the best is to look at the worst.


What team leadership habits should you avoid?

  1. Afraid To Delegate
    Fear of failure, lack of trust, being shown up, or the need for control could be a few of the root causes for a lack of delegation. Oftentimes team leaders tell themselves that it will be quicker if they complete the task, instead of delegating. When leaders don’t delegate tasks that should be completed by a team member, they leave the team feeling that they are not trusted or empowered. Worse they become frustrated that their talents are not being recognized or put to use.

  2. When Tasks Are Delegated They Are Micromanaged 
    When a leader micromanages a team member they are falling into the same fears of not delegating; fear of failure and a loss of control. Ego may also play a role in micromanagement, as it was found 48% of those in charge want to be seen as an expert. There is a real and significant negative impact when team members are micromanaged. One study found that 79% of respondents had experienced micromanagement, which interfered with their job performance and morale.

  3. Lack Of Communication
    How can a team be highly effective without a leader who delivers a clear team vision, communicates directions clearly, and provides frequent updates? In Communication Barriers in the Modern Workplace, a report from The Economist Intelligence Unit, it was found that communication barriers including lack of clarity, ineffective meetings, and differing communication styles, all of which put negative pressure on productivity and the bottom line. In the report, they found that “communication breakdowns also contribute to less tangible issues, such as stress (52%) and low morale (31%)."

  4. Employee Recognition Isn’t Happening

    Everyone wants to know if they’re doing a good job and that their contributions are valued. Yet, according to one study one in five leaders said they have trouble giving praise for a job well done, and another 16% have difficulty crediting others with good ideas. As a result, employee engagement, team culture, and results suffer.

  5. Expectations Are Not Set
    Closely tied with lack of communication, when team leaders are not clear with expectations for the team and each individual, frustration is bound to happen. When expectations are not defined upfront with role clarity and accountabilities, it undermines the performance and results of the team and negatively impacts engagement, relationships, and teamwork as everyone starts pointing fingers at each other when things inevitably go wrong.

  6. Leadership Accountability Is Lacking
    Leadership accountability can be defined as the commitment of the leader to take ownership of their actions, accept responsibility for them, and report the results against the desired outcome. Since accountability starts with leadership, if you aren’t accountable, your employees and colleagues may not see a point in being accountable either. Ultimately, this bad leadership habit can breed resentment and dissolve trust and respect.

  7. Meetings Are Disorganized
    The frustration that results from unorganized or pointless meetings is enough to drive almost anyone bananas. When team meetings do not have an agenda, a purpose, or a leader steering the conversation, it can be all too easy for individuals to monopolize the conversation, mentally check out, or not make any decisions.

    Interestingly, research cited in the HBR article, Why Your Meetings Stink - And What To Do About It, explains that “leaders consistently rate their own meetings very favorably - and much more positively than attendees do. When managers assume that their meetings are going well, they are less apt to solicit feedback and seek opportunities to improve. As a result, frustrations that attendees commonly cite (such as irrelevant agenda items, overly long duration, lack of focus) persist, leaving people disgruntled and disengaged.”

  8. Fear Of Delivering Feedback
    Another habit closely tied with lack of communication is the absence of feedback. Team members crave feedback from their leaders. Without it, they do not know where they stand and if there is something they could improve on. It was found in a survey of managers that 37% of the respondents admitted to being uncomfortable giving direct feedback to an employee if they perceived they would respond in a negative way.


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