Sometimes we don’t realize how much our words and actions matter, but when you’re the boss it’s important to consider what this article is saying:
“In these interviews, we heard all about the kind of leaders they aspire to be. The problem is, their teams had submitted them as “bad bosses” for behaviors they exhibited when they were under stress, frustrated, or feeling insecure. It turns out, stress turns us into different people and stokes our dysfunctional tendencies, which harm other people’s experiences with us.
After we’d interviewed the first handful of leaders, we got together and reflected: We also used to manage teams, and some of those employee relationships didn’t end well. Had we engaged in these same negative tendencies? To find out, we set out to interview our former team members and just listen. It became clear that we impact our team members much more with our words and actions than we ever thought.”
It’s true. Our words and actions, especially when things are stressful, undermine what we think we are. You may think you’re being a good boss, and maybe most of the time you are, but those days when you’re stressed and short with people or the days you decide to not deal with a problem, become the days that define you in the eyes of the people who report to you.
To them, you aren’t just another person having a bad day. You are the person who controls their success at this company for better or worse, so it’s not just you having a bad day, it’s the organization having a bad day, directed at them.
It has a larger impact because everything you say and do represents the entire organization to them. If you ignore a problem, the organization is ignoring that problem. If you micromanage one particular project because it’s something really important to you, the organization doesn’t trust that team to get it done.
See how this works? It works with my old role in customer training too. I think I’m a really good trainer, I think many people who’ve sat in a class over multiple days with me might even say the same. But some people out there think I’m terrible at it. Because the one interaction they had with me wasn’t all that great. It was a bad day, maybe I was tired from traveling and missed a detail or two. Maybe, for some other reason, they didn’t appreciate a joke I made or struggled to answer a question they had.
So, to them, I’m a bad trainer. That’s OK. It happens, we all move on from it.
I’m not their boss though, and that really matters.
Have you considered how some of your actions might be representing yourself to your employees as something other than the boss you want to be? Go consider the ways the authors found that they had damaged their relationships with direct reports without really meaning to.