5 Steps for Going From Horrible Boss to Great Leader

2 min read
Apr 7, 2015

5 Steps for Going From Horrible Boss to Great LeaderThe Michael Scotts from The Office, the Bill Lumberghs from Office Space, and the three managers from Horrible Bosses may not be as fictional as they seem.

In a Monster survey, when asked to rate their boss on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being “horrible” and 5 being “excellent,” 38% of respondents chose 1. Only 17% chose 5. So when your friends complain about their horrible bosses, they may not be stretching the truth.

These stats are bad news to all bosses. A study by Accenture shows the top four reasons employees quit:

  • 43% say a lack of recognition
  • 35% say internal politics
  • 31% say they don’t like their boss
  • 31% say a lack of empowerment

If you boil those four down, they really all come down to one thing: poor leadership qualities, a.k.a. horrible bosses.

A manager should be responsible for — at the very least — three out of those four driving issues causing employees to leave. Recognition and empowerment should be doled out by the boss, and one that isn’t doing that isn’t living up to employee expectations and hopes. If you find out you’re one of the horrible bosses, there is a five-step plan to gain back respect from your workforce.

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1. Assess the damage: Are you having your employees work extra hours, come in on weekends without so much as a thank you? Maybe you slipped up on social media. Or you micromanage, never allowing your employees to take the reins they should be empowered to have. Whatever it is, nail down your poor leadership qualities — and be honest with yourself.

2. Be direct: This is the time to be humble. Admit your shortcomings to your staff, and be clear and direct. Now is not the time to be defensive; lay it out on the table. Your employees will appreciate you for it.

3. Ask for feedback: Step two will already open the doors of communication—leave them open. Ask for feedback on what you could be doing better, how you can be meeting your employees’ needs and expectations, and how you can empower your workforce. It could be as simple as not prying into vacation days or time off, or it could be complicated. Be prepared, and be genuine.

4. Have a strategic plan for change: Take that feedback and make a plan for the future. This is where you are not just a boss, but you’re a leader. And you need a plan to showcase strong leadership qualities that reflect the needs of your workforce. According to Forbes, two crucial elements of this plan should be trust and transparency.

Employees want to work for a leader who is forthright and open. And the trust should go both ways: employees should be able to trust their leader, and they want that trust right back, empowering them in the workplace. Implement specific goals and metrics for moving forward in this direction.

5. Follow through: A plan is nothing without the follow-through. Execute. And you should never be unsure of how your plan is working, because that open door of communication should be delivering constant feedback.

Don’t fall into the leadership qualities that make you a horrible boss. And if you do, make sure you follow the steps to pull yourself out.



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