Frankenboss – noun; 1. A mean boss that terrorizes his or her employees; 2. A boss whose behavior closely resembles that of a half-brained monster; 3. A jerk.
With Halloween just three days away, I told my wife that I wanted to write an article about the bad, clueless behaviors that make a leader a “Frankenboss” (see definition above). Sadly enough, it only took us about 3 minutes to brainstorm the following list. If any of these describe your leadership style, you might want to take a look in the mirror and examine the face that’s peering back at you…you might have bolts growing out the sides of your neck.
You might be a Frankenboss if you…
1. Lose your temper – Some leaders think by yelling or cursing at employees they are motivating them. Baloney! Losing your temper only shows a lack of maturity and self-control. There’s no room for yelling and screaming in today’s workplace. Our society has finally awoken to the damaging effects of bullying in our school system so why should it be any different at work? No one should have to go to work and fear getting reamed out by their boss. If you have troubles controlling your temper then do something to fix it.
2. Don’t follow through on your commitments – One of the quickest ways to erode trust with your followers is to not follow through on commitments. As a leader, your people look to you to see what behavior is acceptable, and if you have a habit of not following through on your commitments, it sends an unspoken message to your team that it’s ok for them to not follow through on their commitments either.
3. Don’t pay attention, multi-task, or aren’t “present” in meetings – Some studies say that body language accounts for 50-70% of communication. Multi-tasking on your phone, being preoccupied with other thoughts and priorities, or simply exhibiting an attitude of boredom or impatience in meetings all send the message to your team that you’d rather be any place else than meeting with them. It’s rude and disrespectful to your team to act that way. If you can’t be fully engaged and devote the time and energy needed to meet with your team, then be honest with them and work to arrange your schedule so that you can give them 100% of your focus. They deserve it.
4. Are driven by your Ego – The heart of leadership is about giving, not receiving. Self-serving leaders may be successful in the short-term, but they won’t be able to create a sustainable followership over time. I’m not saying it’s not important for leaders to have a healthy self-esteem because it’s very important. If you don’t feel good about yourself, it’s going to be hard to generate the self-confidence needed to lead assertively, but there is a difference between self-confidence and egoism. Ken Blanchard likes to say that selfless leaders don’t think less of themselves, they just think about themselves less.
5. Avoid conflict – Successful leaders know how to effectively manage conflict in their teams. Conflict in and of itself is not a bad thing, but our culture tends to have a negative view of conflict and neglect the benefits of creativity, better decision-making, and innovation that it can bring. Frankenbosses tend to either completely avoid conflict by sweeping issues under the rug or they go to the extreme by choosing to make a mountain out of every molehill. Good leaders learn how to diagnose the situation at hand and use the appropriate conflict management style.
6. Don’t give feedback – Your people need to know how they’re performing, both good and bad. A hallmark of trusted leaders is their open communication style. They share information about themselves, the organization, and they keep their employees apprised of how they’re performing. Meeting on a quarterly basis to review the employee’s goals and their progress towards attaining those goals is a good performance management practice. It’s not fair to your employees to give them an assignment, never check on how they’re doing, and then blast them with negative feedback when they fail to deliver exactly what you wanted. It’s Leadership 101 – set clear goals, provide the direction and support the person needs, provide coaching and feedback along the way, and then celebrate with them when they achieve the goal.
7. Micromanage – Ugh…even saying the word conjures up stress and anxiety. Micromanaging bosses are like dirty diapers – full of crap and all over your a**. The source of micromanagement comes from several places. The micromanager tends to think their way is the best and only way to do the task, they have control issues, they don’t trust others, and generally are not good at training, delegating, and letting go of work. Then they spend their time re-doing the work of their subordinates until it meets their unrealistic standards and they go around complaining about how overworked and stressed-out they are! Knock it off! A sign of a good leader is what happens in the office when you’re not there. Are people fully competent in the work? Is it meeting quality standards? Are they behaving like good corporate citizens? Micromanagers have to learn to hire the right folks, train them to do the job the right way, monitor their performance, and then get out of their way and let them do their jobs.
8. Throw your team members under the bus – When great bosses experience success, they give the credit to their team. When they encounter failure, they take personal responsibility. Blaming, accusing, or making excuses is a sign of being a weak, insecure leader. Trusted leaders own up to their mistakes, don’t blame others, and work to fix the problem. If you’re prone to throwing your team members under the bus whenever you or they mess up, you’ll find that they will start to withdraw, take less risk, and engage in more CYA behavior. No one likes to be called out in front of others, especially when it’s not justified. Man up and take responsibility.
9. Always play by the book – Leadership is not always black and white. There are a lot of gray areas when it comes to being a leader and the best ones learn to use good judgment and intuition to handle each situation uniquely. There are some instances where you need to treat everyone the same when it comes to critical policies and procedures, but there are also lots of times when you need to weigh the variables involved and make tough decisions. Too many leaders rely upon the organizational policy manual so they don’t have to make tough decisions. It’s much easier to say “Sorry, that’s the policy” than it is to jump into the fray and come up with creative solutions to the problems at hand.
10. You practice “seagull” management – A seagull manager is one who periodically flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps all over everyone, and then flies away. Good leaders are engaged with their team members and have the pulse of what’s going on in the organization. That is much harder work than it is to be a seagull manager, but it also earns you much more respect and trust from your team members because they know you understand what they’re dealing with on a day-to-day basis and you have their best interests in mind.
I’m sure you’ve had your own personal experiences with a Frankenboss. What other behaviors would you add to this list? Feel free to leave a comment and share your thoughts.
Randy, this is really good stuff. I’m sorry to say I’ve made all of those mistakes over the years in different leadership roles, with the exception of “Throw your team members under the bus.” In my personal experience — and from coaching lots of leaders — I think we become Frankenbosses when we feel insecure and afraid we’ll be found out to be not good enough. Trying to hide your fears is a sure character twister. You start off by being inauthentic and go downhill from there.
Thanks for posting this!
I’m sure most of us have exhibited Frankenboss behaviors to some degree or another. I agree that fear and insecurity are big motivators for these kinds of behaviors and if leaders can get beyond those feelings and be comfortable in their own skin, they have more freedom to reach their full leadership potential.
A great list. I think the tricky part is that sometimes leaders try to do what they think is right, and they don’t understand the negative impact… “playing by the book is a good example of this.” I am going for the halloween theme this week too… different spin on Wednesday… love going seasonal in writing 😉
Thanks, Karin, I appreciate your feedback. You’re right that sometimes we try to do the right thing and it just comes out wrong.
Enjoy your Halloween!
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No trick, is there a Hall of Fame for great blog posts? I’ll share this widely. The humour makes it so easy to tackle tough conversations and the diaper analogy is classic!
Please, keep ’em coming.
LOL…thanks Dominique! I have to admit, that was kind of a fun one to write. I started to go with a Jeff Foxworthy “If you…you might be redneck” theme, but I was running short on time so I saved that for another day.
Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!
Thanks Randy (and your wife)! I really enjoyed your article and will share it with my linkedin and wordpress followers. Another addition to your list could be those that are flying by the seat of their pants, who suck the knowledge out of their peers and subordinates and take credit for it as their own. I make sure I email these people to lay a very solid audit trail!
Sent from my BlackBerry® from Optus
Randy, great post. Once I moved past thinking that you were taking a shot at all of the Franks out there I really enjoyed this. That was certainly an effective 3 minute brainstorming session because this is quite a thorough list!
LOL…that’s great Frank. No, it wasn’t anything personal for all of you Frank’s in the world.
Sadly, the 3 minute brainstorm was mostly the result of a bad school principal my wife had a few years ago with a few of my bad boss memories sprinkled in.
As always, I appreciate your comments. Enjoy your week ahead.
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this article is great!!! after more than 20 years experience working in global companies of course I met a couple of this bosses, I am very gratefull with the life to let me know them……….. so I can see the difference.
Thanks Rebeca! Frankenbosses are certainly good for showing us what NOT to do!
very good article.
What about a “magpie” boss, one that throws out your eggs and takes your nest? A rare species you don’t like to meet with.
That is a great addition!
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Yes, thank you, good article,and
1.what i was thinking to add i guess it was said in other words by [theprofessionalpayrollmanager on October 28, 2012 at 1:40 pm:
“could be those that are flying by the seat of their pants, who suck the knowledge out of their peers and subordinates and take credit for it as their own”}- I was a regular employee when i used to give a solution to ( small) issue and in several days my boss said loudly, in my face, and to the others that he was glad “his” idea had worked. Later i found out he did the same with another colleague who finally decided not to care anymore about giving ideas.
2. don’t be the boss who, swept away by the emergency of a situation, critiques one employee in front of the others and takes an inappropriate decision without verifying black on white if what he’s been told was correct.
Good points Renata. Taking credit for someone else’s work is a sure way to erode trust.
Very good article! I really enjoyed the description of the “seagull” Manager…I know a few of those…and they’re not on the beach!
Thanks Micheline! Too bad seagull managers aren’t excluded to the beach, right?!
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