We’ve all had a boss or manager who has said things that either made us lose respect for them, or made us feel about an inch tall. As you begin your journey as a leader in the business world, it is important to keep these bad experiences in mind to be sure you don’t make the same mistakes.
Here we have compiled a list of 10 things you’ll never hear a great leader say. We all make mistakes, but saying any of these phrases to an employee will no doubt lose you their respect, and fast.
1. “I’m Sorry You Feel That Way”
Using this phrase is a quick way to let your employee know that you really don’t value their feelings or opinion, since it’s about the most unapologetic apology a person can make. Rather than saying something like this, a great leader will make an effort to understand where their employee is coming from. Make sure your employees know you value them and will listen when they come to you—this will make for a much more positive and healthy work environment.
2. “It’s Not Personal, It’s Business”
Since there is no way that this phrase could ever be used to follow up a positive comment, it’s probably best not to use it and add insult to injury. While it will be necessary to have difficult conversations with employees from time to time, it is important to keep things as positive as possible, rather than focusing on the negative. Coaching employees to success is a critical part of your role as a leader, and negativity will never have the desired effect. Also, regardless of the situation, it’s almost impossible for anyone to not take an insult directed at them personally.
3. “It’s Not My Fault”
No one likes to be around, let alone work for, someone who won’t take responsibility. A great leader leads by example and will be the first to step up and accept an equal amount of blame when necessary. Pushing off blame onto others is a quick way to lose respect and create a toxic work environment.
4. “I Did It”
The opposite of a leader who pushes everything off on their employees is the one who likes to take all of the credit. A strong leader will share success with their employees, and make sure they are recognized for their contributions. Teamwork training is an essential element in any work environment, and it’s just as important for the boss to take part as every other employee.
5. “You Don’t Understand, Do You?”
There is probably no faster way to make an employee feel stupid and worthless than using this phrase. An employee knows when they’ve done something wrong or made a mistake—rather than demeaning them and pointing out their flaws, a true leader will help turn those weaknesses into strengths.
6. “Because I Said So”
It is likely that you’ve heard this phrase at least once in your life, probably from a parent. Can you imagine hearing it from your boss? A good leader will use strategic leadership to encourage their employees, making sure everyone understands why things are done a certain way, and being open to suggestions from others.
7. “That’s the Way I’ve Always Done It”
One of the most important things you can do as an employer is listen to your employees. If an employee thinks there might be a better way of handling customer relations or some other aspect of your business they know a lot about, you should hear them out and consider their opinion. The best leaders are always looking for better ways of doing things and are open to suggestions.
8. “I’ll Do It Myself”
As the PIC at your business, it may seem easier at times to try to handle everything yourself. You’re the only one who can do it right, right? Wrong. You obviously saw something in these people that made you hire them in the first place—show them you trust them by letting them shoulder some of the responsibility. When an employee feels trusted and respected, they’ll do much better work than if they feel like you think they can’t do anything right.
9. “Your Performance Can Make or Break the Company”
It’s incredibly unlikely that the fate of your company rests on the shoulders of one single employee, so don’t put that kind of pressure on them. With some strategic thinking, you can undoubtedly find something more motivating to tell your employees. Putting unrealistic and undue stress on your employees will eventually lead to the downfall of your company, and that will be completely your fault.
10. “I’m In Charge”
Your employees obviously know who’s in charge when it comes to your business, and you declaring yourself to be does nothing more than make you look like a dictator. To have success in business, you need to foster an environment where all employees regularly participate in teamwork training and work on team building skills. This includes you. The greatest leaders make sure their employees know they don’t consider themselves any better than the people who work for them.
The takeaway? Think before you speak.
If at any point you find yourself struggling with any of these phrases, take the time to step back and focus on your leadership development—there are countless leadership seminars available to help. Treat your employees the way you’d want a boss to treat you—if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.