insight magazine

5 Reasons No One Likes You

If any of these leadership traits resonate with you, you’re definitely not feeling the love. By Bridget McCrea | Spring 2016

No one likes you

Everything is awesome. You’re calling the shots. You have the private office. You make the big bucks. You get the results. Oh, and everybody hates you.

About that …. You may think you were born to lead, but the reality is, you’re failing fast. The “leader” ship is about to set sail, and you’re not on it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still get on board. If any of these all-too-common leadership traits hit a little too close to home, then it’s time to turn things around.

1. Micromanagement-itis

The scourge of the productive workplace, close-ly observing and controlling the work of your subordinates down to the tiniest of details may seem like a foolproof way to ensure tasks are completed to your standards, but in reality it undermines your employees’ morale and severe-ly cripples their talents.

“The more detailed and time-intensive the supervision of your employees’ every action, the more they will resist your direction,” says Bob Anderson, chairman of The Leadership Circle in Salt Lake City and co-author of Mastering Leadership. “When you micromanage your employees they become discouraged. They don’t see value in improving their abilities, making extra effort, or expressing their creativity. These leaders cause their organizations to become dependent upon them by reducing motivation, learning, independent thinking and creativity.

“Such lack of faith in your employees will not engender good will, loyalty, or productive relationships,” Anderson adds, “and this behavior will cause your best employees to leave your organization.”

2. Elitism

“No one else can do the job as well as they can—or so they assume,” says Eileen Monesson of underwhelming leaders. For 12 years Monesson worked for a CPA firm before venturing out to consult for the industry. Today, she is principal of PRCounts LLC, a company focused on stakeholder engagement. From Monesson’s vantage point, the biggest leadership challenge accountants have to overcome is the inability to confidently delegate.

If you’re making strategic decisions in a bubble, and acting on those decisions without your team behind you, you’re undermining your effectiveness and influence as a leader—and hurting the organization as a whole.

The remedy is really quite simple: Engage your team in the decision-making process whenever possible.

“When you give people a chance to step up to the plate and take ownership over their work, the results can be pretty amazing,” says Monesson.

3. Dismissiveness

Leadership isn’t just about getting what you want from your employees; it’s also about giving them what they need to succeed. If you’re not giving your people performance feedback and opportunities to develop, they’re not very likely to admire, respect, or appreciate you—and, even more importantly, they’re considerably more likely to leave.

“If an employee is struggling to measure up, a successful leader provides that employee with learning and development resources to improve performance,” says Anderson. “If an employee is performing well, perhaps even exceeding expectations, a successful leader again provides a means for development and growth, leading the employee to enhanced opportunities.”

“If you want to know what your employees expect and need, simply ask them,” implores Bill Adams, The Leadership Circle’s CEO and Mastering Leadership’s co-author. “If you don’t ask, you won’t know—and if you don’t manage the expectations once you know them, your employees will not respect you.”

4. Ingratitude

Praise? What praise? Victory is its own reward …. Or is it?

Task-oriented leaders often see the accomplishment of a task as a reward in and of itself. Team-oriented leaders, on the other hand, understand that a little praise goes a long way in building loyalty and inspiring the desire to work towards ever-greater success.

This isn’t a case of go big or go home. Praise can take the form of anything from an email congratulating each of your team members on a job well done and recognizing individual contributions, to making an announcement at the weekly staff meeting or praising your team in the company newsletter. If you have the budget, consider taking them out for a ‘thank you’ lunch or after-work social. The important thing is that the praise is there—and that it’s there for all to see.

5. Aloofness

If you think of work solely as a series of tasks that need to be accomplished in order to achieve a strategic goal, then stop (unless you run a department of automatons). Work is about relationships as much as anything else. To get the most out of your team members, they really need to like—and respect—you. That takes a lot more than technical prowess and business acumen to achieve. Rather, it takes social savvy and a boatload of emotional intelligence.

“Lack of skill or effort in creating and nurturing employee relationships will compromise your success as a leader,” Adams explains. For example, say you need an employee’s extra time and effort on an assignment. If you’ve taken the time to build a relationship with this person they’ll likely be far more willing to go the extra mile when you most need it. “On the other hand,” says Adams, “if you fail to develop relationships with your people, your organization will become soulless and your work will become transactional and draining for all.”

Ultimately, becoming a likeable leader that employees trust and respect all comes down to cultivating good relationships in the workplace, says Anderson, who has seen too many supervisors burn bridges without understanding the long-term implications.

“If a leader isn’t effective in his or her relationship-building, and if others steer clear of forming bonds with that person, their leadership tenure is going to be pretty short,” he says. “The bottom line is that leadership, and the results that you produce as a leader, both rely heavily on those bonds.”