What makes a boss follower-worthy? The question might as well be, “What makes a leader effective?” Too big a question to answer in a blog post – libraries are filled with answers to that question.
So just to seed a discussion, here are my two biggest pet peeves about non-follower-worthy bosses. If you recognize your boss in either of these two scenarios, god help you. If you recognize yourself, please, for your employees’ sake – change your ways. Now!
1. The boss who promises but doesn’t deliver
Charlie is a good ‘ol boy. He’s so charming, everybody loves him. Great listener. You couldn’t believe your luck when you found out he was going to be your new boss.
And within a few weeks, you came to realize that any time he tells you he’ll do something, you’ll leave that meeting with a smile on your face – what a great guy! – and a sinking feeling in your heart. That thing he said he’d do? Ain’t gonna happen.
You think maybe if you start sending Charlie reminders – but how long can that last before he either gets angry, or defensive, or embarrassed. And who wants to see their clueless, well-meaning boss embarrassed? So eventually, like all Charlie’s employees, you give up. You resign yourself to either doing it yourself, if you have the time and the authority – or just seething in frustration that it’s not gonna get done.
If you happen to be Charlie, I’d suggest one of four things is going on with you:
- You don’t know how to organize.
- You don’t know how to say no – probably because you lack confidence. “If I promise people stuff, they’ll like me.” I really don’t understand how Charlie can believe people will continue to like him when he never follows through.
- You don’t know how to manage time. Can be a discipline problem, a motivation problem, or just lacking the skill to prioritize and calendar.
- Inability to live in reality. Charlie’s got 473 things on his to-do list today and he thinks he can get them all done.
2. The boss who assigns but doesn’t check in
Melanie is a go-getter. She inspires people with her work ethic. She’s articulate, energetic, visionary – a natural born leader, it seems.
Problem is, when it comes to anyone else’s work – notably the folks who report to her – she’s clueless. “Oh, THIS is a great project! Dave, I’d like you to get this done by a week from Friday. Great. Meeting adjourned.”
Problem is, Dave is already inundated with other projects Melanie has given him – projects that she’s never checked in with him on. So it’s on two levels that she doesn’t check in. She doesn’t check in to see if he has time – given his other priorities – to tackle the new project. AND, once she assigns him a project, quite often she never checks in again – doesn’t ask if it’s gonna be done on time, doesn’t ask if he needs help … in fact seems to forget the entire conversation in which she assigned the damn thing!
Melanie’s vision is a set of wings. Unfortunately, there are no legs to land on – for her or her employees.
Charlie and Melanie – get your acts together, would you please? You are not follower-worthy. You’re ruining work for your employees, and you’re contributing to the demise of your organization.
What makes a boss follower-worthy to you? And what keeps a boss from being follower-worthy?