I talked to a friend yesterday who was excited about his job. Afterward, I realized that much of what he said centered around what a great manager he had. It’s impossible to exaggerate how critical a good leader is when compared to a bad leader. Because everything rises and falls upon leadership, let’s take a look at some key differences between good leaders and bad leaders.
Bad leaders only tell you “what” to do
Good leaders share the “why” behind the “what”
Bad leaders are out to get every ounce of work they can from their team without explaining why the task or project is important. Good leaders inspire you by discussing “why” they are giving you a task or project. They help you to see how what you do fits into the strategy and objectives of the entire team and company and why what you’re working on is important.
Bad leaders play the blame game
Good leaders take responsibility
Bad leaders talk in terms of “You” when a mistake is made or when a project fails. If something bad happens, it’s always your fault, not theirs. “You should have seen this coming and prevented it.” Good leaders say “I should have seen this coming and helped you with it, I’m sorry.” Good leaders will talk in terms of “You” when things go right and when things go wrong they will talk in terms of “I” or “We.”
Bad leaders just don’t care
Good leaders care
Bad leaders care about excellence and success but they don’t really care about you as a person. If you make a mistake they’ll call you out publicly without any regard for your dignity. If you’re having personal problems they’ll be quick to tell you to leave them at home. Good leaders won’t give you a pass and accept poor work from you when you’re having a hard time in your personal life, but they will listen and help you any way they can. They don’t just care about the work that needs to be done, they care about the person doing the work.
Bad leaders give you the solutions
Good leaders help you find your own solutions
Bad leaders are often incredibly smart and competent. The problem is they always be the smartest person in the room. Good leaders care more about your learning and development and they ask you questions that help you figure out the solutions to problems. Good leaders want you to discover how smart and resourceful you are more than they want to impress others with how smart they are.
Bad leaders don’t want to know what you think
Good leaders are always asking your opinion
Bad leaders don’t ask for your opinion because if they wanted you to have one, they would give it to you. They think it’s their job to have the ideas and the answers and they think it’s your job to do the work of lesser mortals. Good leaders often ask for your opinion and ideas because they know that no one person is as smart as the entire team. Good leaders won’t always agree with you or implement your suggestion but they always encourage you to speak up and share what’s on your mind.