You can see all of the blog posts in our series on Leadership Failures here.

In this blog post, I wanted to talk about managers that restrict access to their groups with an unusual demand…

In my 35 years of coaching executives and teams, Workers sometimes tell me that they have been instructed not to discuss issues with a member of another group without that group’s manager present. When I ask why this is, I’m told management wants to stop their own employees from accepting requests from other groups that they shouldn’t accept. In one instance, the manager of a company’s IT security group would not allow any request to be made of her group without being present for the conversation herself. She effectively built a wall between her group and the rest of the company that her group was supposed to serve.

Requiring that a manager must be present for every conversation can tell you a lot about how that group is led. When a manager has to be present, it’s most likely because that manager wants to make a case-by-case decision that she does not believe that anyone in the group can do alone. It’s also clear that the manager of the group either lacks the ability or the desire to teach her group to understand how to handle requests from other groups. A group like this will work inefficiently, because every request has to be single threaded through the manager. Even in the situation where the group’s members honestly believe that their manager is protecting them from unwarranted requests, they still have no stake in the functioning of their group — all decisions are made by the manager. Because they have no decisions to make, workers within the group will become disengaged. Employee disengagement describes employees that have no interest in doing their job well, and simply focus on doing their job until quitting time. It also costs companies across the globe more than $500 billion annually in lost productivity.

How do we deal with a situation like this? The manager who needs to be present at every conversation has a trust problem with her employees. The concerns may be valid, but instead of demanding to be present, this manager needs to examine what is causing the trust issue and address it. Is it because her employees have made poor decisions in the past? If so, we need to teach the team, not babysit them.

Will they still make mistakes, even after being taught? Sure. Everyone does. Teach more and do some coaching as well. By trusting the group and correcting when mistakes are made instead of blaming, this manager could go a long way toward improving the engagement of her own employees, improving the perception of her group throughout the rest of the organization, and will likely discover a lot more time in her day to do the things that she’s actually supposed to be doing.

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Have You Seen Examples of Poor Leadership?

What examples of poor leadership have you seen? Tell us about your experiences in the comment section below!