When your boss has amazing technical skills but terrible people skills

Design 7

You know the old story, a person is promoted into a supervisory / management position because they are excellent at their job, but it soon becomes apparent it was a terrible, terrible mistake. You see whilst technically you can’t fault their performance, being a people manager is more about motivating and engaging your employees and less about the technical aspects of the job.

In order to move up the ladder in most companies and increase their earnings, generally a person must be promoted to management positions. And the role of manager seems like the perfect reward for that one great employee. It comes with higher pay, greater responsibility to help that person grow, and more perks. And, some employers may hope, one high-flying team member can share those skills with a whole group, increasing productivity overall.

However, not everyone excels at managing other people. Sometimes that star employee is good at leading a team for just a short time, but you may see a decline in performance if they take over long-term. Also, though they may be able to make friends and work together, they may not show the empathy and desire to help others that is essential for a manager.

Managers who most consistently drove high engagement, loyalty, productivity, profit, and service levels all shared five uncommon talents:

  • They motivate their employees.
  • They assert themselves to overcome obstacles.
  • They create a culture of accountability.
  • They build trusting relationships.
  • They make informed, unbiased decisions for the good of their team and organisation.

Studies of employee engagement since the 1990s, and has repeatedly found that companies with happy and committed employees outperform all others in terms of business outcomes including absenteeism, turnover, innovation, and productivity. Getting the decision right in who you name manager and how you develop them is the most important decision any organisational leader can make. The best strategies in the world will likely fail in execution without the highly talented managers in place.

The best organisations know that people don’t become leaders just because they got promoted. They take leadership development seriously.

However, lots of other employers don’t. They delude themselves that new managers will learn how to lead employees on their own, without guidance or instruction.

There is another reason there are so many poor managers around, and that is that many of the people who might be coaching and inspiring young leaders don’t understand leadership themselves.

When you have great leaders around you, it’s easy to emulate what they do to be successful. Unfortunately, the same is also true for bad bosses.

If you’ve only ever seen bad examples of leadership, you are much more likely to follow their poor lead.

So how to recognise if you are, or you have, a poor leader

1. Poor Integrity

One of my favorite leadership quotes is, “Integrity is the most valuable and respected quality of leadership. Always keep your word.” It doesn’t matter how capable, intelligent or effective a leader is. If they lack moral integrity, troubles are bound to follow. For one, employees look to their leaders for examples of what behavior is acceptable. If a leader is engaging in unethical behavior, it won’t be long before the employees under them are engaging in unethical behavior as well. Sooner or later, a lack of moral integrity almost always leads to a person’s undoing, which is why it should be a major red flag.

2. Lack Of Adaptability

Great leaders know how to employ a range of leadership styles depending on what the situation calls for. The simple truth is that not all employees are motivated by the same factors, and there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach that will work in every situation. Good leaders recognize this and are fluid, while poor leaders may be stuck in their ways and unwilling to adapt to what the situation calls for. If you notice that a leader is stubborn, slow to adapt to changing situations and is demonstrating a “my-way-or-the-highway” attitude, they are likely a poor leader.

3. Little Vision For The Future 

The job of a leader is to push forward, and good leaders should always be focused on how they can make tomorrow more efficient and productive than today. Bad leaders, though, often get complacent and stay satisfied with the status quo. If a leader is not focused on the future and demonstrating a clear plan for how to continuously improve, progress is unlikely to happen.

4. Lack Of Accountability 

The best leaders take accountability when things go wrong and give credit to others when things go right. Employees want to know that they are working for a leader who will give them due credit when they do well and not throw them under the bus when things go wrong. Some leaders, though, are unable or unwilling to shoulder this responsibility and instead deflect blame to others and take credit for themselves. In the end, this behavior is going to do very little to motivate a workforce to succeed.

5. Poor Communication Skills

Great communication skills are by far some of the most important traits for a leader to have. It doesn’t matter how effective a plan a leader is able to draw up. If they are not able to communicate that plan to their employees in a way that is easy to understand and motivating, then little progress is going to be made. Good leaders need to be able to listen intently and communicate clearly. If a leader is demonstrating an inability to communicate their ideas and expectations to others, they are not likely to be a very effective leader.

Leadership can make or break any business. Because of this, there are a few key factors to consider before you join a new team or hire a new leader. These characteristics should also be applied to anyone trying to improve their own skills, as well. No matter the case, remember that great leaders must regularly demonstrate integrity, adaptability, vision, accountability and communication skills to effectively lead their teams to greatness.

Based in Kalgoorlie, The People & Culture Office is an independent HR Consultant who can partner with you to offer a one stop HR solution, we only charge you for the work we perform; no contracts, no annual or monthly fees, just quality service. Click here to learn more