Last week I was speaking with one of my coaching clients who was despondent because he was not getting clear direction from his boss.
Here are some of the issues he was struggling with.
- His boss would only set up a one-on-one meeting once a month and often canceled at the last moment. At last count, it had been 90 days since they met.
- He would cancel team meetings at the last moment or just not show up.
- When he gave direction, it was ambiguous, with no clear metrics or due dates.
- He would shoot off long emails late at night, just doing a data dump of ideas. Again, there were no clear expectations, metrics, or due dates.
- He would leave the team to work on projects with no clear direction and then swoop in at the last moment and change much of their work.
- When the team gave him feedback on how challenging and confusing this behavior was, he blamed it all on them.
Although this sounds ludicrous, it is unfortunately not uncommon. However, sometimes bad leaders teach us great lessons about how not to behave. So, I asked my client, “What would you like from him to make things easier for you?” Here is what he told me.
I want to understand precisely what his expectations are. It’s hard for me to succeed if I don’t know what it looks like. It is stressful to work on a project when I have no idea what outcome I am supposed to achieve. I would love it if he would sit down and take the time to explain things in more detail.
I want to be able to count on him to show up for meetings. I feel it is incredibly disrespectful to our team when he skips meetings without giving us any reason or apology. Also, I would like more consistency in the direction and priorities of our work. It seems that we jump from one priority to the next. Always chasing shiny red balls and squirrels is exhausting.
He does not seem to understand or care that we might have a life outside of our jobs. Because we are an international company with customers worldwide, he expects us to take client calls at 5:00 am, work all day, and then talk with another client at 7:30 pm. I often receive emails from him on Saturdays asking me to get something done for him by Monday morning. This is putting extreme stress on my family and me.
I told my client, “At least now you know how you should never treat your people when you become a senior leader.”
Clarity. Consistency. Compassion. Every leader must exhibit these three traits to build trust, loyalty, and engagement in their organization. How well do you do these three things?
PS – If you think it’s crazy for him to stay at that job with that kind of a boss, don’t worry, he’s looking for a new job!