Six leaders you don’t want to be

Something that happens in the workplace is that people tend to emulate the boss’s leadership style. As you develop your own leadership skills, you do find your own style, but we often carry with us behaviours and leadership skills that we have learned from others.

Here are six types of leaders you don’t want to become.

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The ‘everyone’s best friend’ boss.

This leader is overly concerned with relationships and how not to spoil them. Often a really lovely person, this boss finds having difficult conversations too hard, will agree with everyone, and is difficult to trust because you just know that he or she is telling you what you want to hear. Ineffective in performance reviews, this boss leaves you feeling wishy washy. They just LOVE everything you do, but deep down you know you have areas for improvement.

The ‘follow the rules’ boss.

This leader is conventional, rule-bound and bureaucratic. Stifling innovation and growth in their team, this boss feels safe when he or she knows that the team is ‘doing the right thing’. This boss doesn’t make many decisions, preferring to refer to policies, consult his or her boss, or have a group consensus decision. When you work for this boss, eventually your drive and creativity dies a withering ‘death by process’.

The ‘never around when you need them’ boss.

This leader avoids things that are difficult. Difficult conversations, conflicts, work that is too hard. It is often hard to pin this boss down to have a conversation because they have a ‘second office’ somewhere (maybe a coffee shop down the street) that they retreat to when things get tough. This boss is a classic procrastinator and will lob in on you with last minute rush jobs that were due yesterday.

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The ‘power tripping toxic’ boss.

This leader is only happy when they are in charge of everything and everybody. Often aggressive and antagonistic, they are highly critical, micromanage their team, undermine and take credit. A warning sign is the ‘power office’ – the best, biggest and plastered with all the awards the team has won. This boss doesn’t use the word “we” and often prides himself or herself on the ability to reduce adults to tears. If you work for this boss, you will need a hide like an elephant or a stash of tissues.

The ‘win at all costs’ boss.

This leader needs to win. The team must be the best at everything, and the team members are encouraged to compete aggressively. Known for statements like ‘you had better tell me who stuffed this up so I know which one of you I am firing,’ this leader drives a culture of covering up mistakes, blaming others and other ‘stab your grandmother in the back to get ahead’ behaviour.

The ‘perfectionist’ boss.

This leader is a stickler for perfection. Everything must be absolutely right, or it’s just not good enough. Finicky, picky and difficult to deal with this leader creates a climate where people are highly stressed because they are so concerned with getting things right. Realistically, nobody will ever meet the standards this boss sets and he or she spends many hours on weekends reworking things to get them right. Interestingly, sometimes this boss doesn’t deal out consequences for not getting things right and just does it themselves. This creates laziness in the team, why would you bother doing a great job when you know it’s just going to get redone anyway?

Have you ever worked for one of these bosses? Tell us how you coped with their leadership skills.

Rosalind Cardinal

Rosalind Cardinal is the Principal Consultant of Shaping Change, a Hobart based consultancy, specialising in improving business outcomes by developing individuals, teams and organisations.

Top image: photography.andreas