7 Reasons Why You Stink As A Leader

Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

It may come as a shock to you, but just because you’re a business owner doesn’t mean you’re a great leader. If you’re the one your staff looks to for direction, this is something you’re going to have to address sooner rather than later. Here are the top 7 reasons your staff might view you as a poor leader.

1. You Don’t Have Leadership Talent or Experience

Most entrepreneurs start a business because they love doing something, like baking cupcakes or designing websites; not because they love managing other people.

However, as businesses grow, entrepreneurs hire staff. And that’s a good thing, right? While it’s a natural course of action of any growing business, hiring staff also highlights glaring weaknesses in leadership talent within entrepreneurs.

Successful entrepreneurs often don’t know if they have leadership talent until they start hiring staff. Many others commonly demonstrate their desire and talent for leading, prior to becoming an entrepreneur. Whatever your scenario, seek leadership training if you haven’t had leadership experience before; it’ll save you from finding out you don’t have leadership talent the hard way.

2. You Don’t Trust Your Staff

Type-A personalities tend to run rampant among entrepreneurs. And while that attention to detail and insistence on perfection will serve you well in most areas of your business, managing staff isn’t one of them. When you turn into a control freak, you tend to micromanage, which makes your employees feel like you don’t trust them to do their jobs. And maybe you don’t. Unfortunately, you have to, because you can’t do it all; this is one of the hardest lessons for an entrepreneur to learn, as giving up control can be scary for entrepreneurs who strive for perfection.

In order to maximize the value of their time, entrepreneurs should only do the things that only they can do. The rest should be outsourced.

3. You’re a Poor Communicator

Clear communication is the key to a well-oiled machine. But nearly half of employees get confusing or unclear instructions from their superiors, which causes misunderstandings, missed deadlines, frustration, and ultimately employee turnover. If you want to hire applicants that are great communicators, you have to first teach yourself a few things about how to do it well yourself.

Make sure your instructions are clear by asking your employee to repeat them to you. Read through your emails before sending them out to ensure they’re relaying what you want, minus any emotional undertones. Consider the channels you use and choose the best for communicating what you need to say.

4. You Have No Company Culture

Remember: this is your business, and you’re here every day because you love it and want to nurture it. But let’s be honest; your staff is there, primarily, because they want to make money. Is that really the motivator you want for people you’re paying to help you run a successful business? Do you want them counting down the hours until they can leave the office? Or do you want them to feel invested in your company, and that they’re part of something bigger than themselves?

If it’s the latter you want, you’ve got to establish a company culture. What makes working at your business a benefit to people? What ethos guides you? Are you a fun and quirky company with a foosball table in the break room? You don’t have to be to connect with your team, but you do have to have some sort of culture to serve as the glue that binds your team.

5. You Can’t Handle Criticism

Like many entrepreneurs, you became the boss because you didn’t like taking orders from other people. Now, however, you refuse to see your own flaws and how they’re damaging your business. Your staff is afraid of you, and will never come to you with a suggestion on how to improve the company. And that’s your own fault.

Without your employees, you’re a solopreneur. And if you’ve built up your business enough, at some point, you won’t be able to be one-man (or woman) show anymore. Reaping the benefits of entrepreneurship doesn’t include being glued to your computer or office 24/7 after all, right? Take a long, hard look at how you lead your staff, then be open to improving your strategy.

6. You Don’t Listen

You talk more than you listen, and you think you have that privilege because you’re the head honcho. But you’d be surprised what you can learn from your staff if you only listened, and allowed them to be honest with you. Being a better listener will make them feel like you value what they have to say, and they’ll open up in a way they didn’t before.

If you’re an interrupter, catch yourself before you start talking over other people. It belittles others, discourages honest communication, frustrates people, and shows you weren’t listening to begin with. Take a deep breath before talking, and don’t always feel like you have to fill silence with words.

7. You Have No Interest in Niceties

Maybe your pet peeve is when everyone comes into the office and starts the early-morning chatter.

Hey Bob! How was your weekend?

I caught the last soccer match yesterday on TV. Can you believe they won?

Beth! That’s an adorable skirt! Where’d you get it?

Whether you subscribe to chit-chat or not, it’s got a place in the office, and you need to use it to your advantage. While you don’t need to make friends with your staff, you should be friendly and develop a positive relationship with each employee.

It might not seem like much, but when you say hello to one of your staff as you walk by, ask about their kids, or just show interest in them as human beings rather than cogs in your machine. They’ll develop a bond with you, and will be more willing to go the extra mile for you and your business.


Sucking as a leader, fortunately, is reversible if you’re willing to invest some time and energy into improving your management tactics and learning better communication strategies. Just set your ego aside, be open to what your staff has to say, and trust them to do their jobs. It’s a challenge for many new entrepreneurs, but a major stepping stone on the path to entrepreneurial success.

CEO of EmailAnalytics (emailanalytics.com), a productivity tool that visualizes team email activity, and measures email response time. Check out the free trial!

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store