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Are You Sure You’re Not A Bad Boss?

| September 4, 2012

by Jim Bruce

Today’s Tuesday Reading “Are You Sure You’re Not A Bad Boss?” first appeared in the Harvard Business Review’s Blog Network.  Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman are, respectively, the CEO and the president of Zenger | Folkman, a leadership development consultancy.  They are co-authors of the October 2011 HBR article “Making Yourself Indispensable,” and the book How to Be Exceptional: Drive Leadership Success by Magnifying Your Strengths (McGraw-Hill, 2012).

You can turn the title of this article around and ask how will I know whether or not I am a bad boss?  Mining the Zenger | Folkman database of some 3000,000 feedback reports from peers, direct reports, and bosses for about 30,000 individuals, they have been able to identify ten “flaws” – mostly flaws of omission and not commission – that contribute to a leaders failure.

These flaws are:

1.  Failure to inspire, owing to a lack of energy and enthusiasm.  (This is the most noticeable of their findings.)

2.  Acceptance of mediocre performance, in place of excellent results.

3.  A lack of clear vision and direction.

4.  An inability to collaborate and be a team player.

5.  Failure to walk the talk.

6.  Failure to improve and learn from mistakes.

7.  An inability to lead change or innovate owing to a resistance to new ideas.

8.  A failure to develop others.

9.  Inept interpersonal skills.

10. Displays of bad judgment that lead to poor decisions.

Zenger and Folkman note that while any one of these flaws can “tank a leader,” they typically come in clusters.  Since most of these flaws are things that the leader does not do, they are hard to see as more than “point” failures.  But, an individual can see them by regularly reflecting on his/her work by looking through these “lenses.”

How are you doing?  What would be helpful for you to work on?  Perhaps you need to track your behaviors in one or more of these areas.  You might keep notes in a journal and after a month or so, reflecting on your observations, then identifying what needs to be worked on, and getting to it.

I hope you will take the time in the coming week to hold yourself up to this template and take whatever actions you find appropriate.

.  .  .  .  .    jim