Or, on the flip side, worth staying over? To understand what makes a great leader, we looked at data from 75, employees and more than 10, managers working primarily in the U.
Level 2: The Hit-or-Miss Leader
Nobody sets out to be an Unintentional Leader. People end up that way for various reasons, including some not entirely of their own making. They may have been so great at their job, they were promoted to supervise people doing the same type of work—and then not given the training needed to lead. They could have amazing technical skills but lack the people skills a leader needs to inspire and motivate. They could be dealing with a health issue, addiction, family crisis, or other personal problem that hinders their ability to bring their best self to work. They may mistakenly believe that being a leader means acting like a drill sergeant: barking orders, and keeping their compassion and humanity under wraps.
Small changes can result in enough improvement to move up to the next level—with great positive impact for the company and its employees. Such changes could include getting proper training, acting in a more approachable manner, or making an effort to collaborate with employees more often. It could also help break up the toxic environment, allowing people to focus less on getting through the day and more on the task at hand, making it less likely they would want to find another job.
Likewise, they may not work well with other teams, leading to communication breakdowns.
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If a Hit-or-Miss Leader can do that, the people they work with will gain faith in their integrity and put more effort into their work, which will improve cooperation and productivity. But they are mainly concerned with checking tasks off a to-do list or hitting key performance indicators and consequently are not as forward-thinking or charismatic as leaders at higher levels. A Transactional Leader could be a creature of habit, clinging to old patterns cultivated before digital advances and other innovations that have changed how work gets done and the requirements of the job.
That level of competency also applies to teams they manage, which are good at executing specific, known tasks. I'm a new manager. I was a Team Leader in my previous job but now I'm a full manager and I'm struggling. There are six people on my team. Some of them are older than I am. It's a little bit intimidating.
I try to be friendly but not everyone appreciates it. I try to flex to accommodate each person on the team but it's hard. I asked one of my employees, "Rhoda," what plans she had for lunch yesterday — just trying to make conversation and show interest. She bristled and said "I have plans — that's my personal time, after all! I have a decent relationship with my team members, I think, but I'm just not having any success trying to get to know them better or develop a better rapport.
The Five Messages Leaders Must Manage
I sat down with each person on the team to talk about my plans, their plans and their role. The meetings were okay but nobody had much to say. I asked a few of the employees simple questions like "What is our team's reputation in the company?
Nobody answered those questions. They just sat there.
Sign up here to get top career advice delivered straight to your inbox every week. It's frustrating when you're trying to reach out to someone and your overtures are not reciprocated. Pretty much everybody has been there in the social realm. We might try for six months to make friends with someone but we keep getting rebuffed.
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In the social realm, most of us give up trying eventually. Then the person we wanted to become closer to either warms up and reaches out on their own, or we realize that we can live a happy life without them!
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It's more complicated when you are the manager and you're trying to become friendlier with your employees. They have a natural force field up, because you hold power over them by virtue of being the boss. A lot of people don't want their boss to be overly friendly with them.
It makes them nervous. Maybe they got burned by a manager in the past — someone who got friendly with them and then used that friendship to stab them in the back. Sadly, it happens every day. You have to build trust with your employees slowly, watching them for cues.
The Five Messages Leaders Must Manage
You can't stride into a management job and start barking out orders. If you do, no one will trust you for a very long time — or never. Few employees would want to hear the question "Are the other employees happy in their jobs?