Leaders who engage in these kinds of behavior obviously harm and possibly destroy their company. The negative effects are seen and felt throughout the organization. But are there actions of leaders that are considered less scandalous, but still have a tremendously damaging effect on the employees and organization? Are there things that a leader does that he or she is not even aware of their harmful impact? Are there behaviors that employees will even tolerate because they feel like nothing can be done? And if you are currently in a leadership position reading this, are there things you might be doing that hinder the growth of your organization that you have no clue about? What could it be?
A great deal of negative leadership styles and behaviors stem from insecurity in leadership. My past two blog posts focused on emotional health differentiation, and how this can play such a pivotal role in the success and longevity of your relationships. But it is not just in relationships. Being unhealthy emotionally can powerfully influence the strength of your organization and leading out of insecurity is one marker of emotional unhealthiness. And this is not an insignificant issue. Researchers show that poor leadership costs a company seven percent of annual sales. This translates into roughly one million dollars for the average companies. That’s a lot of money! Insecure leadership, among other things, can result in higher employee turnover, decreased customer satisfaction, and lower employee productivity.
So what does insecure leadership look like? There are many different types of insecure leadership styles. Below are a few examples and how they hurt the team. Which one or two do you identify with?
1. Conflict Avoiding Leadership Style
A leader with this style will do everything to avoid or ignore conflict. They may use the excuse that they are peacemakers and want everyone to get along, but that peace can easily ends up being “false peace”— where outwardly everyone seem okay but inwardly everyone feel the opposite. This style breeds many elephants in the room that are ignored and not discussed. Often in leadership, difficult conversations need to be had and worked through, but conflict-avoiding bosses tend to be okay with the status quo due to the fear of disrupting people and the culture. Real issues are rarely discussed and they tend to take a band aid approach to fixing issues.
Damage to the team or organization:
- Lack of trust in the leader
- Superficial relationships in the team
- Communication break down because employees fear bringing up issues
- Unclear roles and expectations and break down in team work
- Value of customer service is compromised by not addressing things that hurt the customer service.
- Employees are frustrated and good employees leave
2. People Pleasing Leadership style
A people pleasing leader is affected more about the opinion’s of the employees more than the goals of the organization. This results in wishy-washy decision making since decisions are heavily dependent on people’s opinions. This leader will lead more with compromises rather than passion and conviction. Compromise is sometimes required and even wise in certain situations, but people pleasing leader make compromises not because it’s prudent but rather out of fear of other’s reactions and how that might affect their image. The people pleasing leadership style places security in being well-liked by others, which clouds their decision-making and ability to see the big picture in work relationships and disagreements.
Damage to the team:
- The mission and vision of the organization is not clear
- Team is dissatisfied and frustrated
- Overall lack of trust in leader’s decision making process
- Compromises create environment of minimal effort by employees
- Burnout in the employee increases
3. Workaholic Leadership Style
This is a leader that can’t seem to stop working. They tend to find their worth based on the amount of work they accomplish. They usually are perfectionist and they feel more valuable when they have more power and recognition. They tend to get a lot of work done and perform at a high level but at the cost of relationship both in their personal and professional lives. They also do not encourage or exemplify for employees a healthy work-life balance or how to properly manage priorities both inside and outside of the workplace.
Damage to the team:
- Higher burnout rates among employees
- Dysfunctional family life as less time with family and friends
- Creates a culture of being a cut throat work culture to outperform
- Higher chances of illness and sickness with imbalanced work schedule
- Employees quitting after 1-2 years
4. Micromanaging leadership style
These types of leaders have a difficult time delegating work because they don’t trust others with the quality of work. When they do delegate, they will hover over the employee, questioning every detail and step. These leaders tend to look more at the details of the work rather than at the big picture. They do not fully trust and empower their employees to make decisions. They frequently fail to recognize the capability of their employees’ leadership ability, or invest in training. The micromanaging leadership style places security in having control over everything.
Damage to the team:
- Lowers employee morale— employees don’t feel valued and trusted with leadership and work
- Creates a bottleneck to productivity and performance
- Creates a “my way or the highway” approach and doesn’t value alternative ideas
- Doesn’t empower employees and that department when leader leaves
5. Fear Driven Leadership style
This leader likes to play it safe. They don’t want to take risks because of the fear of failure. They rely on what’s been done successfully in the past rather than creating something new and untested. They want a workplace that is controlled and predictable. They don’t like surprises. They may always be getting approval and support from their superiors in order to not take any risks. The fear driven leadership style places security in stability so much to the point of impeding growth that sometimes requires risk and failures.
Damage to the team:
- The leader loses credibility among the team
- No value for new approaches and ideas to improve the organization
- The team is afraid to act and move forward
- Lack of trust in the leader because leader seems to care about their success
All leaders have some degree of insecurities in their leadership. We are all human beings and means we are broken and flawed. However, when leaders learn to find their security in their identity as a person rather than in their performance, they can truly start to accept their strengths and limitations as a leader and start to lead at their best. They become more reflective and aware of how their insecure leadership style can be hurtful to the organization, and take steps to change it. They can also have the security to allow their team members to keep them accountable to be at their best. Working to embrace and adapt of more secure leadership styles will help make organizations even healthier and stronger.