Avoiding Managerial Self-Sabotage
Stop Being Your Own Worst Enemy
I hire people brighter than me, then I get out of their way.– Lee Iacocca, renowned U.S. business leader
Renata has just been promoted to manager of her department. She's always done a great job but now she doubts her confidence and ability. She's got several high-performing players on her team who are smart, creative, confident, and outspoken – and she feels threatened by their skills and experience.
Worried that her team members and her own manager will think that she's not up to the job, Renata feels that she has to show them who's boss. So, she's decisive and sets the rules. She downplays other people's ideas and double-checks their work. She feels in control. But two months later, half her team has left and she feels more anxious than ever.
Instead of relishing the fact that she had an outstanding team that she could have helped to excel even more, her fear of looking weak led her to taking a course of action that ended up destroying a great unit and reinforcing her anxieties. Not only did Renata's behavior wreck her team, it was self-destructive, as it severely damaged her previously good reputation.
In this article, we explore why and how some managers can unwittingly sabotage their own chances of success. We identify some common self-destructive habits, and look at ways to change them and become a leader other people admire.
Why Do Some Managers Self-Sabotage?
There are several reasons why you might unwittingly damage your own reputation or chances of success. For example, you might put your team members down or act in an overly authoritarian way because you had poor leadership role models in the past, or saw other people doing so in the workplace. Or, as we saw in our opening scenario, you may self-sabotage if you doubt your own abilities or feel anxious that a star performer on your team makes you look bad. In such cases, you might interpret a suggestion from him or her as a reflection on how you do your job....