Being a leader is a privilege and pleasure. So is working, for that matter, as there are many without that status. But, no one is super human these are realities one tends to take for granted. When that happens, numerous other actions can drive leaders, and those in the ranks of management, nuts… and a half. Any of these 25 things look familiar and send your boss into orbit? If so, prepare to laugh at the fact that we’ve all been there and we’ve likely all nearly lost it in the face of some of these actions. Who knew it was this easy to do it and might we as leaders have anything to do with that? Hmm…more on that in a future Monday Moment.  First up, the first thing employees do that make leaders lose it.

  1. Work the System. Nothing is more tedious or quick to light a leader’s fuse. Either work here or don’t. Be ill or be well, but for the love of all things FMLA, stop working the flipping system, hogging a headcount and forcing everyone else to cover extra responsibilities.
  2. Be passive aggressive. A cousin to working the system. This action doesn’t help anyone or fix anything.
  3. Create bottlenecks. A term not widely used, but a popular way of blocking the work of others by making it appear not to be on purpose.
  4. Do Drama Repeatedly. At least drama is easier to see and not subtle, but how much really is necessary to make a point or show everyone just how much one doesn’t really want this job in the first place?
  5. Gossip. More targeted toward one or two people than the job in general, this evil act creates extra work, unnecessary time spent in conversation and a great deal of not needed hurt feelings.
  6. Drag Down the Team. Any of the five previous acts will bring this one to fruition. Just how much does a leader need to deal with before losing it?
  7. Waste Their Investment. Ever messed with someone’s money? Bad plan. Mess with a leader’s time, reputation, and effort they’ve spent helping you get a new opportunity, and they might lose it.
  8. Refuse to live up to their potential. Similar to 7 and also sad, as well. A two for one emotional blow.
  9. Force Their Hand. We’ve all made mistakes, but when the mistake is so stupid and flagrant, the boss is forced to immediately terminate the nit-wit in question many a leader would loudly proclaim “What were you thinking?”
  10. Lie. Same reaction as nine, but with anger.
  11. Steal. Same reaction as nine and ten, with a dose of “Are you just stupid?” added the mix.
  12. Take Credit. If one did the great thing, own it. If one didn’t do the great thing, praise those who did. Don’t confuse the two as it simply makes the team and the boss look like no one knows who’s who.
  13. Let the Boss Get Blindsided. Seriously, this is an action for which the need for avoidance is confusing?
  14. Ignore Directions. Everyone can miss a beat or two, but blatantly ignoring a best practice or direction, particularly in issues of high dollar costs or safety issues, is a fast way to get a boss to yell at you.
  15. Disregard Deadlines. Same as fourteen and worse if one uses a flimsy excuse.
  16. Act as if they didn’t know. Ignorance is a simple admission addressed with more learning. When ignorance is a condition, it’s a problem, for which there may be yelling.
  17. Start a mutiny. A similar admission is one that reveals the real issue. It takes courage. A mutiny is a group of usually passive employees complaining about things they are unwilling to address, much less fix. There are far more effective ways to fix a problem.
  18. Confuse senior management. Mid-level leaders are employees, too and one thing they do to cause their C-Suite bosses to lose it, is provide half, cryptic, confusing, or inaccurate information. See 2, 5, 10, and 12. Same issues. Different lingo due to the senior management level.
  19. Make their boss look bad. By accident, things happen and recovery can occur. On purpose, jobs are lost and careers sent off course with this one.
  20. Quit, but forget to tell people. Don’t do it. It gives one far too much time to commit half of the above list. Have the guts to either quit or do the job to which you said yes. Quitting in your head and sticking around without saying anything, is just plain unethical.
  21. Say nice things in person and mean things on a 360. Hypocrisy and one person mutiny. Won’t fix the problem, but will make one’s boss appear to have a vendetta. Wonder why?
  22. Seek to prove their boss wrong. Ummmm… let’s see. Make the person in charge of your review, in charge of the next promotion for you, look stupid…for what…hiring you? Good plan.
  23. Constantly argue. Nothing wrong with a simple difference of opinion…ever. Big problems with starting constant arguments. See item 22.
  24. Defiantly question everything. Nothing wrong with asking questions…ever. Big problems with starting constant arguments. See item 22.
  25. Criticize their boss in public or private. Karma is real. People talk. Gossip always has a grain of truth. Any other reasons to reinforce why this one might make a leader lose it?

At the end of this list, one may think “Yes! It’s not just me who loses it when these things happen.” But as a leader with the privilege of developing future leaders, maybe it’s best if we  attempt to do less losing it, and more teaching of employees how not to do it. Of if they really wish to continue and it’s impacting others, helping them determine where they could do these things, other than their current place of employment.

Oh, and if you’re a new boss, be prepared for the possibility of these and make sure you’re not doing any of these. 🙂

Monica Wofford, CSP is a leadership development specialist who keynotes, coaches, consults with, and develops leaders of all levels, building their skills through emotional intelligence and authenticity. Author of Contagious Leadership and Make Difficult People Disappear, Monica may be reached at, or by calling 1-866-382-0121.

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