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No leader sets out to frustrate their team. Yet, chances are we do it everyday. Or, at least we do it often. We are human. Every leader makes mistakes like everyone else does.

One of my favorite verses is in the book of James. “Elijah was a man just like us.” (James 5:17) The great prophet of God was human. Normal. Not perfect.

Thank you, God for the reminder I’m not supposed to be perfect.

There are, however, some common things, which cause frustrations on the teams we lead. If we can learn them – and attempt to avoid though – we can do less frustrating.

7 ways leaders frustrate their teams:

Having unnecessary rules. – Rules are necessary. That is, unless they’re not. Unneeded rules are a pain to everyone – even the rule-mongers trying to enforce them. The way to control people to some leaders is to write more rules. But, the way to empower people is to only write rules, which promote progress.

Limiting communication. Don’t let people know what you are thinking. Keep them guessing, which means they will also be a little paranoid. And, their fear will impact the entire team.

Micro-analyzing everything. When the leader has to monitor everything, know about everything, be included in every discussion, and has a strong opinion about everything, it makes people feel very unimportant – and unnecessary.

Using unpredictable leadership. Here’s just one example of how they (we) do it. They introduce an idea, get everyone excited about it, and then just as the team gets on board they forget all about it next week, because they are excited about something new. Frustration ensues every time. It’s frustrating to try and follow a leader when you can never discern what the leader gets most excited about or what they are thinking.

Allowing silo competition. The leader who encourages competition among people who are supposed to be a team often frustrate more than they encourage progress. Competition can be a good thing, if it spurs people to greater heights. When it divides people, rather than causing to work together, it invites frustration.

Devaluing community spirit. The leader causes frustration when no one has an opportunity to get to know each other outside of work. When fun is downplayed and everything is “work” it becomes job for which you earn a paycheck more than a passion for which you strive to achieve. This is especially true when no one gets to really know the leader outside of work.

Only celebrating what’s next. It’s frustrating to a team when the leader only talks about the future. And, it’s certainly frustrating when the past – even the great days of the past, are completely forgotten. The leader who never fully embraces the moment and doesn’t see the good others are doing today – when the leaders keeps pushing for more, more, more – frustrating.

I’ve been guilty of many (okay most) of these at one time or another. And I’m sure there are many more frustrating things I’ve done as a leader.

Leader, how about you?

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • jimpemberton says:

    One frustration I've noticed has been the perception by either the leader or whoever hired the leader that at least a couple of these constitutes good leadership, particularly Unnecessary Rules and Microanalyzing. Oddly, I have frustrated people who called into question my leadership abilities by not making rules that they thought should be made or by not micromanaging people that others thought should be micromanaged. The best thing for a team is build trust and you don't do that by demonstrating that you don't trust them by requiring unnecessary accountability. You need good accountability, but not when it stifles people being able to contribute by accomplishing the mission using their God-given talents the way he gave them. Rather, you want to facilitate a solid team by creating an organizational structure that recognizes people's strengths and weaknesses and focuses them toward accomplishing the purpose of the team.