Sometimes, good intentions backfire. Your boss might think they’re displaying impeccable leadership qualities by being a cheerleader, always insisting the team can succeed, even though consistent success is a pipe dream at best. They might want to give employees freedom but end up not providing enough guidance. They might only want to help an employee with a task, and then another, until a pattern of micromanaging emerges. They might want to be consistent at the expense of adapting to someone’s needs or changing circumstances.
A smart leader delegates tasks, public appearances, important announcements and other managerial duties. But if your boss is never around or simply doesn’t manage, chances are you’ll be dissatisfied at work. It’s far less common to work for bosszilla than to work for the opposite: someone who shrugs their shoulders and doesn’t take charge, according to a study published in the British Journal of Management. But this type of leader isn’t just at fault for having a laissez-faire attitude. This person reaps the perks of being the head honcho without taking any of the responsibility. Employees of these leaders are even more dissatisfied in the long term than those who work for “tyrannical” types, according to a study published in Zeitschrift für Psychologie.
Because absentee leaders don’t actively make trouble, their negative impact on organizations can be difficult to detect, and when it is detected, it often is considered a low-priority problem, Thus, absentee leaders are often silent organization killers.
Obviously, if a leader thinks their company is doomed to fail, that attitude likely won’t sustain a business. But a leader with too much of a sunshiney demeanor, despite the reality around them, might seem out of touch if they try to spearhead overly ambitious projects. Further, a Quartz article on the topic of optimism in leadership cites Liz Wiseman, CEO of the Wiseman Group, who explains that overly optimistic leaders can be “accidental diminishers.” This means that, even though they don’t intend to, they might be diminishing the hard work employees are doing. If they insist lofty goals are achievable but don’t acknowledge the work it’s going to take, employees might feel like their efforts aren’t valued. They also might feel paralyzed by their boss’s unrealistic expectations.
Often, a leader’s can-do attitude results in stepping in to do damage control at the first sign of distress. If an employee lets a manager know that they’ve encountered a problem, an optimistic leader might immediately begin assisting them, because they know the solution and are sure everything will be all right. But that might make the employee upset, because they merely wanted the boss to know that the problem had come up and to empathize, with no implication that they didn’t know how to solve it.
Controlling bosses who always have to be involved, don’t delegate enough and check in with employees incessantly are among the worst types of leaders.Career site Comparably recently conducted a survey of more than 2,000 employees, primarily working in tech, and found that most respondents picked “micromanager” as the top offense, followed by “overly critical” and “disorganized.”
A study from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business found that “people in high-demand jobs who also had a high degree of control over their work lives had a 34 percent decrease in the likelihood of death compared with people in less demanding jobs,” according to The Chicago Tribune.