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LEAD

3 Things You Can Learn From People Who Have No Idea How to Lead Others

They are terrible bosses. They can help you be a better boss.

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BY John Brandon - 14 Nov 2018

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

You can't learn much from bad behavior, right?

Not always, especially when it comes to leadership.

In fact, a good leader knows how to watch for the signs of toxic management in others, to analyze it and dissect it, then to sharpen your own skills and avoid those same mistakes.

In my experience, you can learn from managers who are not good at their job, because you can model the opposite behavior to those in your charge. Here's what you can learn.

Leadership takes time

One of the things that defines poor leadership right to the core is that it's rushed and chaotic, and a little random. The person trying to lead a small graphics group doesn't explain things adequately, and it's always a race. The marketing director talks way too fast and is always going to the next meeting. They don't slow down and explain the details, they don't pause and reflect. More importantly, they never read books or...articles like this, even. They are always busy and tend to see leadership as mostly about barking orders quickly as though they are an auctioneer. They think the employees must listen to what they say in all instances. Interestingly, bad leaders lack empathy for others because they don't take the time to get to know people. To be a good leader, you have to build a relationship and understand the core motivations of your team. You have to listen.

Lying doesn't work

Another hallmark of truly ineffective leaders is that they bend the truth to their will, thinking that somehow helps them as a boss. It is so completely false. Misleading a team, telling outright lies, saying one thing to a favorite employee and spinning the truth to another, or distorting the facts all end up making employees hate the boss with a passion. Younger workers in particular can spot a fabrication from a mile away, and because they have a core desire for authenticity in the workplace, they will not be happy once they discover their boss has been lying about the budget, a project, or company plans. A great leader tells the truth and sticks to the facts. By explaining all of the details, you show respect and empathy to workers who are often inundated with too many tasks. Truth cuts through the noise of workplace chaos. It shows you respect people enough to be honest.

Never scold younger workers

Speaking of horrible bosses, here's another leadership "skill" to avoid. Young managers (and many old ones) tend to use a scolding tone, one that's "bossy" and dictatorial, something leftover from the 50s. It's a huge mistake with younger workers, because they are much more averse to being talked down to and scolded. It's almost comical how poor leaders think that works. In fact, if you want to be a great leader in business, avoid scolding as much as possible, with every age group. People on your team want your respect. They want you to show empathy. And they want to know what they do right and how to complete tasks with clear direction. Scolding stomps out all of those employee needs. A good boss knows that scolding is a pressure tactic lesser managers use when they fail to communicate and plan effectively.

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