Leadership Fails That Make You the Water Cooler Laughing Stock

September 9, 2016

You’ve been promoted to manager. You’re ready to lay down the law, and man the troops. Before charging ahead with mediocre leadership tactics, familiarize yourself with the following fails. Avoid them at all costs, as these errors will destroy your office credibility.


You fail to lead by example.


This is a big leadership no-no, and also, one of my pet peeves. Think of it in terms of raising a child. Let’s say growing up, your parents forbid cursing. Even the word “butt” was not acceptable. Now, this might sound relatively normal, but how would you feel if your parents talked like two drunk sailors? As a child, you wouldn’t take them seriously. You’d think they were hypocrites, and wouldn’t respect their authority. Believe it or not, this situation can also play out in the workplace. Employees want you to lead by example, so they can then follow suit.


You don’t set granular monthly goals.


Your goals are always blurry, and maybe even a bit lofty. When there isn’t a specific destination, employees won’t work with purpose. They’ll ho hum along. They won’t be productive, and you won’t get the most out of your team.


Your expectations are muddy and difficult to decipher.


The best managers always set clear expectations. They list out set deadlines and obvious objectives. When working for an effective leader, you know exactly what needs to get done. This person delegates out responsibility according to team goals.


You can’t walk the walk.


You expect employees to bend over backwards for your business, but you don’t display that same level of dedication. You cut out early whenever possible. You put in a C+ effort at best.


You give unwarranted preferential treatment.


Listen, it’s a dog eat dog world out there. I’m not opposed to a survival of the fittest mentality, especially in the workplace. But, it has to be fair and unbiased. For example, let’s say you manage a marketing firm, and one of your bloggers regularly writes content that goes viral. Reward this person. Give them a public nod. Take them out to lunch, or toss an extra vacation day their way. Why? They’ve earned it. But, if you’re rewarding people who aren’t going above and beyond their call of duty, you’re only shooting yourself in the foot. This type of behavior will easily cost you your best employees.


You put yourself on a pedestal.


You’re unapproachable. You rarely show up to work. When you do, you expect boisterous fanfare. You can’t be bothered with simple questions. You don’t give your line level employees the time of day. In fact, you don’t even remember their names. You figure the turnover rate is so high, why bother with an introduction? Sure, this behavior might make you feel cool, but your employees hold no loyalty to you. They will put in the bare minimum effort, and drop their position once something better comes along.


You want best friends, not employees.


Don’t treat employees like college drinking buddies. Sure, you can develop friendships. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But, you need to prioritize professionalism. Work now, play later. If monthly results meet your expectations, then you can hit happy hour. But, if you’re struggling to make payroll, don’t try to be Mr. Cool Boss.


While reading this, did your stomach flip flop? If so, keep reading. These solutions will help rebuild your “ boss” reputation.



  • Join employees for out of office team building exercises.
  • Seek out further learning; attend a leadership conference.
  • Conduct peer to peer reviews, and have employees review your performance.
  • Always ask yourself, “Would I take me seriously?”

These recommendations will help you become a boss you’d even want to work for.

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Author: Kristen Vanstrom


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