Things to Avoid: Top Leadership Traits that Make People Quit

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While excellent managers have the ability to help companies succeed and employees flourish, not all managers have strong leadership qualities. In fact, some exhibit tendencies that push the best employees away and compromise the company’s mission. As you pursue your master’s degree in management, it’s important to understand which leadership behaviors are effective and which could leave your team feeling alienated.

Discover nine of the top leadership traits that make people quit, and learn what habits good managers should avoid.

Propensity for Micromanagement

Fist bumps at meeting

Some executives take their management skills too far by trying to control even the most minor details. While some leaders might believe their tendency to micromanage ensures they always get the results they want, employees typically have a different perspective. Micromanaged employees often feel stifled, as if the work they do or the ideas they have ultimately do not matter. Leaders can avoid exhibiting this trait by treating employees as capable individuals and allowing them to complete projects and pursue innovations independently.

Lack of Trust

In many cases, managers might not give employees the opportunities they need to flourish and succeed because they simply do not trust their subordinates. While some managers might believe this enables them to retain more control in the workplace, it tends to frustrate employees, who might feel defeated and unworthy of trust. For many managers, control is at the root of this issue. Managers who want to avoid demonstrating this quality can agree to relinquish at least a small amount of control and empower employees to take charge of their own projects.

Refusal to Listen to Opposing Viewpoints

Managers might appear strongest when they lead assertively, but not everyone realizes that the best managers do not necessarily lead unchallenged. Managers who surround themselves with those who agree with their every statement and enable questionable leadership tend to lose employee trust. Over time, it is not unusual for employees to get frustrated and quit after perceiving that management will not tolerate alternative viewpoints. To avoid demonstrating this trait, however, managers can surround themselves with middle managers and employees who will challenge their ideas and encourage them to be their best.

Taking Credit for Others’ Work
Few employees can tolerate managers who take credit for their subordinates’ work, no matter how important or minor the project. As John Brandon explains in Inc., employees in a variety of industries consider this the worst trait in a manager. Naturally, most employees want at least occasional recognition for their work, and they also want the opportunity to take on more responsibilities and conquer bigger challenges. Managers who take the credit their employees are due tend to steal their subordinates’ motivation, too. Managers can avoid this by giving employees the credit they deserve for their work.

Absence of Empathy

For most organizations, managers take responsibility for setting good examples and serving as role models for employees. When managers demonstrate a lack of empathy by appearing to shirk responsibilities or not caring when employees are overworked, those employees might feel undervalued and quit. Managers who consistently exhibit a lack of empathy might find that they have trouble retaining employees or encouraging their subordinates to do their best work. To avoid demonstrating an absence of empathy, managers should take their position as a role model seriously, with the belief that their employees will echo their behavior.

Poor Work-Life Balance

Executives who have not yet embraced their position as a role model have a tendency to exhibit poor work-life balance. As Bernard Marr explains in Entrepreneur, executives who make a point of working long hours might believe they are demonstrating a strong work ethic. However, employees can perceive overworked managers’ expectations as unrealistic, and when they see its unhealthy effects, few employees will have the desire to devote themselves so completely to work. Managers can avoid establishing a poor work-life balance by allowing themselves to take breaks and encouraging employees to practice self-care.

Underpaying Employees

No matter the industry, professionals need adequate compensation to feel valued, to build a successful career, and to maintain a strong commitment to their employer. Even within organizations in which passion takes precedence over financial compensation, competitive salaries and bonuses provide added incentives for driven employees. In most cases, employees know what level of financial compensation qualifies as competitive and recognize when their managers do not advocate for them to receive the best possible salary or bonus. To avoid this, managers should take steps to advocate appropriately with the understanding that financial compensation and recognition go hand in hand.

Tendency Toward Nepotism

Not all managers have a comprehensive understanding of the skills and experience it takes to excel in a particular role. Rather than seeking out the best-qualified person for a position, some managers might be inclined to promote the candidate they get along with best or the one they like most. Managers with a tendency toward nepotism or favoritism might successfully build a management team filled with employees they like, but they are likely to alienate qualified employees in the process.

Managers should try to understand the types of qualities their teams truly need. They can also strive for fairness in all employee dealings and take steps to prevent friendships or family connections from driving their decisions.

Unwillingness to Change

Most managers aim for a level of consistency in the workplace, but the inability to enact change when necessary is bound to cause employees to lose faith in management. Over time, managers who avoid change might find that they are not achieving their desired levels of success and that their employees are leaving for more innovative organizations. To avoid this trait, managers should weigh the pros and cons of changes in the workplace and encourage employees to embrace positive innovations.

While many managers hone their skills on the job, most learn the basics over the course of a graduate program. Visit the School of Graduate and Professional Studies to learn how the New England College – Master of Science in Management Online could help create exciting opportunities in non-profit, health care, or project management.


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