Which Leadership Archetypes Make Employees Want To Quit?

By David Mizne

Every employee has their own experiences with management heaven and hell, with the hellish vastly outweighing the idyllic. According to Gallup this is often the result of a system where leadership positions are granted for the wrong reasons. Based on Gallup’s research, only 1 in 10 people possess the talent required to manage effectively, and companies have an 82% failure rate when attempting to choose the right candidate based on their talents.

So why are there so many horrible managers?

In general, promotion to people management is the next logical step in a person’s career. Leadership roles become rewards for a job well done, rather than a position granted based on a person’s talents (one’s natural capacity for excellence according to Gallup).

Excellent managers are motivational, assertive, and create strong relationships and positive work environments. On the other hand, poor managers come in many shapes and sizes. Below are five leadership archetypes that are ineffective and likely to impel employee turnover. Farther below is a fun management quiz that you can take to determine your own management style.

1) The Devil

50% of employees leave their job to get away from their manager, which leads to the inference that an inordinate number of managers fall into this archetype. But abusive or insecure managers do more harm than impacting turnover. Studies show that psychological abuse impacts productivity, and that the behavior is often mimicked by employees when communicating with peers. Eventually the entire workplace can descend into a toxic cesspool.

Like most bullying, abusive or cruel management stems from emotional insecurity. These so-called leaders shy away from employee feedback because they fear that others will discover their incompetence. So if you avoid listening to or acting on feedback at all costs, you may just be The Devil.

2) The Idiot

While a person of low intelligence or knowledge can be a source of amusement for the team, in a position of power they are quite dangerous. Management is often a series of decisions – about employees, the direction of the company, budget allocation…etc… One of the worst things that this type of manager can do is hire poorly, thereby disturbing productivity, morale and the company culture.

3) The Invisible Man

Employee engagement is highest when managers and employees communicate regularly. Whether this is via email, feedback software, or the indispensable one on one meeting, communication is vital. It allows managers to stay informed about issues before they escalate, and facilitates the creation of strong and transparent relationships. Communication allows managers to set meaningful goals and coach employees through frustrations and obstacles.

When managers are too busy with their own tasks to get involved with employees, work product suffers tremendously. And if you’re thinking that an open-door policy is sufficient, forget it. No employee is going to stroll in and risk disturbing The Invisible Man, just like nobody gets in to see the wizard. Not nobody, not now how!

4) The DIY Boss

At first glance this archetype seems like a great manager, they are never cruel or overly-assertive and choose personal overwork over delegation. The problem here is that they never challenge or develop their employees, some of the most important factors contributing to employee job satisfaction.

Millennials, who are rapidly becoming the most populous generation in the workplace, are looking to make an impact and not just skate by on the efforts of others. They also want to become experts in their fields and become senior leaders at the companies where they work. To do that, managers have to delegate tasks and challenge them beyond their comfort zones, not just do it all themselves.

 5) The Slave Driver

According to Stanford University research, productivity per hour declines sharply when the workweek exceeds 50 hours and drops off precipitously after 55 hours. In this article, Dr. Travis Bradbury suggests that if you are going to work people up to the 55 hour threshold, you must give them a commensurate salary and title.

The other problem with overwork is that it doesn’t allow people to pursue their passions or have time for family and friends. So besides mental and physical fatigue that can impact the actual work-product, people soon feel a lack of fulfillment that work alone can not remedy.

Leadership Archetype Quiz

Can your management style use some work? Take the leadership archetype quiz and find out. (Note: you will have to keep track of your answers manually, because I was unable to convince the dev team that automating the quiz was a priority.)

1) You have been promoted. How do you break it to your team?

a) You move on without so much as an email. They were all disappointments anyway.

b) Despite the CEO’s detailed explanation that the promotion is confidential, for the next 2 weeks you “accidentally” email the entire company repeatedly and explain why you deserved the promotion.

c) You are the company owner and can’t be bothered with matters that obviously apply to the working class.

d) You barge into a team meeting and shout,  “Suck it monkeys! I’m going corporate!”

e) You send the team a memo, then check-in to make sure they read the memo, then send it again.

2) An employee asks for a promotion and a raise. Do you:

a) Make a comment with the words “blithely unaware”.

b) Babble incoherently.

c) Push the button for the trap-door.

d) Complain that they already make more than you do and that a promotion would essentially be your job, then give in anyway.

e) Say “Noooo, we won’t be doing that.” Then look sideways at the employee and walk away.

3) An employee is devastated by a breakup. Do you:

a) Stare at them in disgust and gesture towards the door.

b) Steal the employee’s phone, then text their estranged partner asking them to come by the office to reconcile.

c) Release the hounds.

d) Walk around the desk and fail at comforting the person by sharing detailed sob stories of your failed relationships.

e) Say, “That sounds like a great opportunity to come in on Saturday…and Sunday too.”

4) Your employee tells you that they will be turning in a late assignment. Do you:

a) Say, “By all means move at a glacial pace. That thrills me!”

b) Hold a meeting and embarrass them in front of the entire company.

c) Call security to have them escorted from the building.

d) Ask them for their notes, finish the assignment for them, then watch as they take credit for your work.

e) Sip your coffee. Shake your head in disappointment. Then walk away.

5) How do you introduce a new hire to your team?

a) Say, “This is your replacement. Train them or you won’t receive your meager severance.”

b) You hold a concert in the parking lot and have the new employees run through a giant sheet of paper, pep-rally style.

c) You have one of your underlings do it. Talking to front-line employees demeans you.

d) Hold a team meeting and excitedly introduce the newbies.

e) Explain to one employee that if they could pack up and move downstairs into storage to make room for the new person, that would be fantastic.

Now tally your results by letter. Which letter is the clear winner (i.e. do you have mostly a’s, b’s, c’s…etc…)?

a) You are “The Devil”, Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada. You have nothing but contempt for anyone but yourself, and you look great doing it.

b) You are “The Idiot”, Michael Scott from The Office. You are not the brightest manager in the world or the most emotionally stable. We’ll leave it there.

c) You are “The Invisible Man”,  C. Montgomery Burns from The Simpsons. You unwind after a long day of solitude in your cavernous office by sitting in your cavernous mansion, clutching a goblet of brandy and cackling uncontrollably.

d) You are “The DIY Boss”, Liz Lemon from 30 Rock. You are quirky and energetic, and end up doing far more than you should because you’re afraid to step on any toes.

e) You are “The Slave Driver”, Bill Lumbergh from Office Space. You have the personality of a rubber doorstop and are unable to read or exhibit human emotion.

Image Credit: Bernard Goldbach

David is not a fan of the terms “thought leadership” or “content marketing”, but he’ll keep using them…for now. Follow him on twitter @davidmizne.



What’s your leadership archetype? Share your quiz results in the comments below…

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