Five Signs You Work For A Weak Manager
Liz Ryan, CONTRIBUTOR
We are learning more and more about leadership all the time. One of the biggest “Ahas!” new and experienced managers (and the people who work for them) have experienced over the past few years is the realization that being a strong manager doesn’t mean being forceful or domineering.
It’s just the opposite — strong managers are strong enough to lead through trust, whereas weak managers have to use the force of their job titles to make people listen to them.
When we talk about fear-based management, it’s the weak managers we are referring to! You can spot a weak manager at a hundred paces or more, because weak managers are the ones who raise their voices, make threats and generally keep their teammates off-balance and worried about pleasing the manager when our customers need them to be happily focused on their work.
Strong managers lead through trust. They trust their teammates and their employees trust them. They don’t have to be right. They don’t care whether they are right or not, as long as the right answer emerges from the conversation. They don’t have to be bossy. They trust their employees to know what to do and to ask for help if they need it.
make up a solution on the spot and say “Just do it — I’m the manager, and I told you what I want!” A weak manager cannot ask for input from people s/he supervises. If you try to reason with your weak manager, s/he’ll get angry.
Needs a Handy Scapegoat
When a weak manager notices that something has gone wrong, he or she has one goal in mind: to find somebody to blame! A strong manager will take responsibility for anything that doesn’t work out as planned, and say “Well, what can we learn from this?” A weak manager can’t take on that responsibility. He or she must pin the blame on somebody else — maybe you!
Can’t Say “I Don’t Know”
A strong manager can say “I don’t know what the answer is” many times a day if necessary, but a weak manager is afraid to say “I don’t know.” He or she will lie or start throwing figurative spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks.
Strong managers learn fast because they learn from successes and misfires, both. Weak managers are not as open to that kind of learning, because so much of their mental and emotional energy goes to deflecting blame when something goes awry.
Strong managers focus on big goals. They follow the adage “The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.” Weak managers get sidetracked with small, insignificant things. That’s why a weak manager will know that you worked until nine p.m. last night averting disaster, but still call you out for walking into work five minutes late the next morning.
Weak managers rely on measurement instead of judgment when they manage people. They have a yardstick for everything. They will say “I manage by the numbers” when in fact, they aren’t managing at all.
Can’t Say “I’m Sorry”
The last sign of a weak manager is that this kind of manager cannot bring him- or herself to say “I’m sorry” when a stronger leader would. They can’t be criticized and they can’t accept feedback, however compassionate. They can’t take it in, because their ego is too fragile to acknowledge any room for growth.
Life is long, but it’s still too short to waste time working for someone who can’t be human and down-to-earth at work. Work can be a fun and creative place, or a sweat shop where you count the minutes until quitting time.
One of the biggest determining factors in your satisfaction at work is the personality of the manager you work for. Don’t you deserve to be led by a person with the courage to lead with a human voice?