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  • Lokajit Tikayatray

5 Signs of Managers Who Stink

Leadership is like cooking.

When it’s good, it’s delightful. But when it stinks, it’s downright unbearable.

Just like you wouldn’t eat rotten food, you shouldn’t follow lousy leaders.

I’ve had my fair share of terrible managers in my software career. With experience, I learned to identify the traits and avoid working with such leaders before it was too late.

From my experiences with bad managers and inspiring leaders, I can easily spot the signs from miles away.

So, how do you spot leaders who are more like stinky cheese than fine wine?

Here are five signs.

1. The Self-Proclaimed Visionaries

Self-proclaimed Visionaries

All Talk, No Walk

Have you ever met a leader who talks big but does little?

That's a self-proclaimed visionary for you. They are clueless about what they are talking about and have zero execution plans.

You will find them lecturing about strategy all the time. They will paint a grand picture of the future, promising you extraordinary growth.

But they would be nowhere to follow through when it is time to act.

Such leaders are all about fancy phrases with zero action.

They may talk about big changes and impressive opportunities, but it's all just empty words. Their purported vision statement and promises to you are like hot air escaping from a balloon — loud and empty.

2. The Micromanagers

The Micromanager

Choking the Life Out of You

Imagine trying to paint a masterpiece. But someone constantly moves your brush, changes your colors, and criticizes every stroke.

That's what micromanagers do.

Such leaders hover over you like a dark cloud, scrutinizing and controlling every tiny detail of your work.

Creativity and innovation?

Forget about it.

Under their watchful eye, you're reduced to a robot, mechanically following orders without a spark of originality.

3. The Absentees

An empty chair

Now You See Me, Now You Don’t

Absentee leaders are like ghosts. They appear occasionally, make some noise, and then vanish into thin air.

You might see them during an escalation when their pant is on fire. But when you need guidance or support, they will be missing.

It's like trying to catch smoke with your bare hands — impossible and frustrating.

Without a leader to guide the team, you and your colleagues will drift aimlessly into a sea of confusion and uncertainty. Your growth trajectory will fail to leave the x-axis under such a manager.

4. The Credit Thieves

A manager trying to hog the limelight

Your Work, Their Glory

Picture this: you work hard, burn the midnight oil, and finally achieve something great.

But when it's time to shine, your manager swoops in and steals the spotlight. Suddenly, it's their brilliant strategy, their motivational leadership, and their outstanding achievement.

And, You?

You're just a shadow in the background, invisible and unacknowledged.

It's like baking a delicious cake only for someone else to eat it and claim they made it.

5. The Unapproachable

Unapproachable Leader

As Warm as Ice

Some leaders are like high mountains — distant and unapproachable.

They sit in their ivory towers (or closed cabins), looking down on the mere mortals below. Trying to talk to them is like trying to have a conversation with a stone wall — cold and unresponsive.

In their eyes, you're a tiny cog in the machine, easily replaceable and not worth their precious time.

Under their management, the workplace becomes a chilly, silent field of ice where communication and collaboration freeze to death.

Conclusion: Signs of Stinky Managers

Bad leaders are a dime a dozen, but that doesn't mean you have to suffer working for them. I was able to break away from bad managers and work under inspiring leaders.

By recognizing these signs, you, too, can steer clear of leaders who stink and seek out those who inspire, support, and empower.

Remember, life's too short to follow rotten leadership.

Sniff out the stink and choose leaders who are as delightful as a breath of fresh air.

In the end, it's your career, your life. Don't let the poor leadership ruin it for you.

Whether it's a self-proclaimed visionary, a micromanager, an absentee, a credit thief, or an unapproachable ice queen or king, steer clear. Recognize the stink, trust your senses, and follow leaders who smell like success.

Because when it comes to leadership and your career growth, you cannot take chances.

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