Annoying Leaders

We have all been in the situation where we have one of those annoying leaders or managers constantly breathing down our backs. When I first started software development, I remember there being a particular lady who would constantly ask you "Is it done yet?" when you mentioned to her that you were almost finished your task. In the beginning it was quite annoying, but over time our team turn it into a running joke that to this day we laugh about.

In saying that, in this post I would like to go over some of the most annoying things that most team members don't like. If you are a manager or leader, you may notice that you are currently doing some of these things and then hopefully you will be able to pro-actively change them over time.

  1. Micromanaging
    This, I think, is one of the biggest things that people often hate about their leaders as it can often lead them to believe that they are incompetent at their job and that they don't trust you. In some situations it can cause them to have the feeling of being "boxed in" to the extent where it starts to hinder their performance. The situation I mentioned at the beginning of this post is a perfect example of micromanaging.

    One thing to take note of, is that different people have different perceptions of what it means to be micromanaged. For example, a team member may feel like they are constantly being managed, but the leader doesn't see it this way as they they have a cool blue personality and likes to be kept up to date and informed. It is therefore important as a leader to clarify why you want the information so that the team member understands the reasoning behind this.

    One last thing to remember is that part of delegating work correctly is setting up predetermined times where you will go over the work so in those scenarios, there is no need to micromanage the person.

  2. Unclear expectations
    This topic was touched upon in the series of topics on delegation. Essentially it boils down to letting the person know what exactly is expected of them when you ask them to do a piece of work. Most people don't want to fail at their task, so there needs to be clear expectations so that they can perform at their best and achieve the end goal.

  3. Taking over delegated tasks
    In this scenario, what you will tend to find happen, is your team lead will delegate a section of work to you, only to take it back a while later and complete it themselves. This can be very demotivating, as a person may have done quite a bit of preparation or work already, and by taking it away away from them it leads them to believe that they are incompetent at the task. Ideally, the tasks should only be taken over if the task was not completed, but even in those cases their may be other solutions, such as sending the person on training.

  4. Faking knowledge
    I'm sure that we have all been with the colleague, or leader, who pretends to know it all. I find this to be especially true in the software development world where egos run rife. There is nothing wrong a team member knowing more about a particular topic more than a leader. Not only is it impossible to know everything, but by saying that they don't know the answer, they have a sense of security and humbleness within themselves. However, what I do think is important, is they are able to get the right minds together to come up with a good solution.

  5. Not standing up to your own boss
    When a leader is unable to stand up to their own boss and speak out, people will often start to lose faith in their ability. It is important that you are consistent in your behaviours, as you don't want to be the person that speaks about the issues with confidence when your boss isn't there, but as soon as he is in the room, you keep quiet. In doing this, you will only lower your credibility with your fellow team.

  6. Blocking development
    I find this particular point very disturbing, as it boils down to preventing your team members from learning and advancing in their career. The job of a leader is to help and support your team as best you can, so that they can grow and become a better person. When you are really passionate about a learning and you encourage them to do so, you will find that they connect to you in a much stronger way.

  7. Not giving feedback
    One of the most frustrating things a person can have is getting poor or vague feedback. As a leader you want to give regular, valuable feedback in both good and bad situations. When people get feedback on a job well done, it elevates them to another level. I have quite a few blog posts on this I topic, so be sure to check them out.

  8. Being used
    You never want to have the situation where the team member is made to feel that they are being exploited. I'm sure you have all had the leader that always wants to look good, especially in front of management, so that they can show off.

    At the end of the day, you don't want to use people to accomplish your dreams but instead you want to help them accomplish their dreams. And to be clear, I don't think that this is some sort of selfless sacrifice that you need to make, after all, your leader should be doing the same for you.

  9. Restricting input
    This point, I tend to find particularly pertinent to software development as, like I mentioned above, I find the industry to be run on egos. You will find that they typically never want to listen to your ideas, as you may come up with a better one, which again is just another sign of insecurity. In my personal experience, I have found that the best ideas and solutions come when there is a healthy debate between the team and not when a single person deems it to be so. At the end of the day, everyone wants to feel that they have been heard and provided some significant value to the team.

  10. Dishonesty
    As a leader, what you want is to be transparent with as much as you possibly can be with your team. You want them to feel that you are being honest and consistent with them. Often you will find, that even if you have a need-to-know policy word spreads by the grapevine. At the end of the day this only leads to a breakdown of trust between yourself and the leader.

  11. Pretending to need your input
    What I mean by this last point is that sometimes you will have a leader that has already decided on the action to take, but as a form or courtesy, they ask you your opinion even though they know it will not make a difference. People want to know that their voices are heard and that you are an authentic and trustworthy leader.

I hope that as you read over some of these points and if you were able to relate to them you can correct them, it will just require some work and dedication.

So that wraps up another post and as always if you have any comments or suggestions, just post them in the section below.

Until next time...keep learning!

Mauro Da Silva

Learning everyday about software development, leadership & self improvement

South Africa