As we approach the end of the second decade of the new millennium, we are beginning to see that many of the things we were taught about business and leadership aren’t true.
For instance, many of us were taught that management is all about calling the shots, telling employees what to do and ruling with an iron fist. This is nonsense.
Real leaders don’t have to rule with an iron fist. Only weak managers have to do that! Strong leaders manage through trust, not fear. They don’t have to bully their employees. They hire smart people and set them loose to accomplish amazing things.
Now that we are realizing how much of what we learned about management is false, we are developing a new view on leadership. Now we know these truths:
1. Real leaders don’t yell, threaten or browbeat employees. They don’t write people up or put them on probation. They don’t pull rank on their employees. They hire people they trust. They treat their teammates like the valued collaborators they are.
2. True leaders ask for help. They are comfortable saying “I don’t know what to do — do you guys know?” They thank their employees. They know that the most important part of their job is to build trust on their team.
3. True leaders realize that their employees know a lot more about how to do their jobs than the manager him- or herself knows. They know that they need their employees more than their employees need the job. They only hire marketable people who could get a job anywhere. They would never dream of insulting their teammates by saying something as fear-based and obnoxious as “If you don’t want the job, I’ll find someone who does!”
Sadly, plenty of managers don’t know how to lead. They don’t know that fear-based management is out of style or that their old-fashioned, inhumane management approach is costing their company talent — and money.
Old-school, fear-based managers don’t know they are dinosaurs!
If you run into a manager who rules through fear, your best bet is to quietly begin a job search and get a new job while you’re still working for the dinosaur. When you land a new job you’ll leave your fearful manager in the dust, and go to work for a manager who trusts him- or herself enough to hire people smarter than they are.
Here are ten disgusting things only fearful, insecure managers say. Sadly, there are still a lot of them around!
1. I don’t want to hear about your personal problems. Just do what I tell you to do!
2. I don’t pay you to think.
3. That’s not your decision to make.
4. This is the way we’ve always done it.
5. I don’t make the policies — I just enforce them.
6. I don’t care how you get it done — just get it done!
7. I don’t have time to talk to you.
8. You think you know a better way? Who died and made you God?
9. Look, I’m the manager — not you.
10. You don’t like it? Don’t let the door hit you on the tush on your way out.
What do these lousy-manager mantras have in common? They all spring from fear!
A manager must care about an employee’s “personal problems.” Why would employees care about the goals you gave them if you don’t give a dang about their lives outside of work?
A manager’s job is to create a trusting work environment where employees do care, and want to do their best.
No responsible manager would say “You have a problem? Too bad! It’s not my problem!”
If every employee’s every brain cell isn’t tuned in to the work at hand, then invaluable assets are going to waste. It is the height of ignorance for a manager to say “I don’t pay you to think.” Yes, you do pay your employees to think and if they are not allowed to think, then you are an awful manager who shouldn’t be in the role.
Every employee’s input is valuable, whether they are personally responsible for making a particular decision or not. Only a manager stuck in fear would say “That’s not your decision to make!” That infantile statement is code for “I’m deathly afraid of being challenged — can’t you see that?”
Business, like the natural world, thrives on change. Things that don’t change die. In business, if you are not constantly evolving you are dying, even if you can’t see it. Managers who say “This is the way we’ve always done it” are out of touch. You can’t afford to waste your talent working for someone like that.
A manager who only enforces other people’s policies without having a voice in them is not a true manager, but a lackey. If your manager is merely a lackey for higher-up decision-makers, you deserve a better job.
If your boss doesn’t care how you solve a problem then they are not truly running their department. Real managers do care how you solve problems, and they’ll be happy to brainstorm with you when you are stuck.
If your manager blows you off and rudely says “I don’t have time for you” that’s a message from Mother Nature. She wants you to move up and out of that toxic workplace to a new place where your manager values your input.
You don’t have to be a manager to have ideas. Rank-and-file employees typically have the best ideas because they are closer to the action. If your manager gets defensive when you try to suggest new ways to solve problems, and if their defensiveness spurs them to insult you and put you down, your course of action is clear. You need a new job!
If you speak your truth at work and your manager says “Don’t like it here? Then quit!” they are telling you all you need to know about their leadership style. Take their advice and start a stealth job search. You’ll be glad you did!
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This content was originally published by Forbes Magazine. Original publishers retain all rights. It appears here for a limited time before automated archiving. By Forbes Magazine