Many leaders need a lesson in how to build a culture of loyalty.
Ever work for a bad boss? Everyone has their own story, or string of stories, of a leader or an owner they worked for and wish they hadn’t. It’s not easy to be a ‘great boss’. It’s also not easy to work for a bad boss. You might think you are doing all the right things, then wonder why you have so much churn in human resources.
Here are some signs that your leadership might be less than you assume.
You have high churn. If you have high organizational churn, this is one of the red flags to poor leadership. It’s never someone else’s fault, and your faults as a leader become most glaring when you have a high turn over rate. You might say to yourself that you have high churn because you’re a ‘tough boss’ or you have a ‘demanding culture’ and ‘expect the best’. But, if that was all the case, you’d have people staying out of loyalty to your obvious servant leadership, which can hardly be the case if you make excuses for churn that amount to your domineering, exacting and ultimately negative style of leadership.
You lose key people. When you have key people start to walk away, this is a time for your ears to perk up to the reasons why. Key people leave for all kinds of reasons, but if you lose someone stalwart and important to your company, it’s time to dig into why. The right people will tell you the truth, the majority of people will tell you something just to make the parting easier. This is your time to understand the why and to fix the problem.
Your people complain about you in the open. When people have had enough, they will complain directly to your face, which is the best outcome you can imagine, because at least you have the chance to fix it. But so many leaders steamroll over the evidence and implement their will, regardless of what’s in front of their faces. If you have people telling you your leadership style is less than ideal, it’s a good time to listen to the evidence instead of dismissing it.
Your people complain about you behind closed doors. There is gossip on the street about you that you never hear about, but which circulate among employees, former employees, their friends, and their families. The thing about gossip is it’s not always the truth, but there is a reason for it beyond the bitter gripes of the undeserving and unhappy. When you have got to the point of damaging gossip about your company, it can mean you have issues you might need to deal with in your leadership style and the ways in which you implement decisions.
Your staff has a lot of sick days. People taking sick days is no big deal, but when it seems to be as common as people coming into work, you might want to take a second look. This might have been slightly more obvious when everyone was still forced to come into work rather than working from home, but the principle remains. People have the right to be sick, and they will be, being people, but if you find a lot of your staff calling in sick, this is one of the leadership warning signs blinking in your face. It’s not up to them to fix what’s wrong with your company, it’s up to you.
Your company has a lot of legal suits from former or current employees. People will file frivolous lawsuits of all kinds against you, and this is just the price of doing business and hiring into the general population. Some people will do these things when they are let go as one last lashing out of spite and vindictiveness against what they see as injustice. But that small percentage of people aside, if your company continues to be filed against for human rights, prejudices, suits for non-payment of fair wages, and on and on, it’s really time to sit down with your top people and ask why.
It’s easy to blame your staff for your leadership shortcomings, or turn a blind eye. But, as Harry S. Truman once famously said, ‘the buck stops here.’ If you aren’t prepared to fix the problems within your organization, that’s up to you. But remember that the fish rots from the head, and whatever you reap you sow. Don’t assume that because you are in charge that you are special or can do whatever you want. The case couldn’t be more opposite for the health and longevity of your reputation and the loyalty of the people working on your behalf.
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