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Five Signs Of An Ungrateful Leader

06/03/2015 12:00AM

By Glenn Llopis

Is your leadership grateful? Do they really understand how – and how much – you contribute; do they appreciate your unique way of thinking and doing and the value you add to the organization as a result?

I’ve noticed that many leaders don’t take enough time to appreciate or pay much attention to their teams and the individual efforts of their employees. They just expect people to do what they are told, rather than investing the required time to properly lead, guide and educate them rightly – so they can stop feeling taken advantage of and start having fun again. It’s no wonder the workplace isn’t innovative enough. This also explains why employees feel undervalued.

Leadership is about enabling the full potential in others. Oftentimes, in the rush of business necessity, leaders forget that their responsibility is to make those around them better – and thus find themselves stuck between leading and managing. This explains why most employees have an identity crisis and only 15% of leaders have defined their personal brand.

Employees want their leaders to have their best interests at heart. They desire a workplace culture where both their leaders and the employees have each other’s backs. To combat the uncertainty that hovers over us all each day, leaders must become more aware of the mindset of their employees and be in constant connection with the pulse of their people and teams. They can’t just rely on third-party opinions. Employees want to know that their leaders are in-tune with what they need to overcome adversity and be successful, and that they know how to leverage their individual strengths. They want leaders who earn their respect because they genuinely seek to understand and support them – rather than just playing a part.

My organization recently hired an intern from Brazil. Guilherme has an undergraduate degree and a deep desire to learn how business is conducted in the United States. He is focused on adding value and making a significant contribution to the organization. It quickly caught my attention that – as we stretched his responsibilities and gave him additional tasks (some that may have seemed overwhelming at times) – he never complained and stayed extremely focused. In fact, as others began to witness his impact, he not only earned their respect but set a new standard for the team.

Leaders need to be just as (if not more) mindful of the contributions and capabilities of others – as they are of their own agendas. The wise leader knows that to advance themselves, they must consistently serve others.

The opportunities that leaders create for the future are directly dependent upon how they manage the opportunities that are right in front of them today. To assure that your organization’s future is momentous, look out for these five signs of an ungrateful leader who is not engaging with or enabling the full potential of others.

1. Don’t Value Employees Enough

A leader’s responsibility is to enable each employee’s full potential, and this requires a deep understanding of their capabilities and competencies. If you don’t know your employees well-enough – how can you properly lead and guide them? People are not all the same – and a wise leader knows that to get the most productivity and engagement from their employees, they must embrace their unique differences and activate them so that the team is operating at full strength and capacity.

If you don’t value your employees enough, then how can you be genuinely grateful for what they are contributing – and are potentially capable of contributing if given the opportunity? Employees respect leaders that can provide an objective evaluation of their value and what it means to the organization they serve.

2. Too Much Recognition

Acknowledging the work of your employees is important, but too much recognition can begin to diminish the perceived value of one’s contributions. It’s not to say that employees don’t want to be recognized – they do – but what they desire most is the opportunity to earn their leader’s respect – where the recognition carries greater value/weight to open new doors of opportunity in the future.

As a leader, be mindful of the balance between respect and recognition. If not, you may begin to lose respect from your employees as they become skeptical about your genuineness and gratefulness towards the contributions and efforts of others.

3. Lack Of Advancement Opportunities

Leaders should always be mindful of the organization’s talent pipeline needs and how to activate their own talent within their department. Leaders show signs of not being grateful enough for their employees when they don’t spend enough time developing high-potential talent or identifying areas for advancement – whether within their own department or throughout other parts of the organization.

Leaders must always have a strategy for employee advancement opportunities. When they don’t, they are not being responsible enough towards the organization and people they serve.

4. Are Not Accountable For Wrongdoing

Leaders show signs of not being grateful when they lack the maturity to admit wrongdoing or acknowledge that their own employees can teach them new ways of thinking along the way. Leadership is not about always being right, it’s about being smart enough to know you are not the only one that can solve the problems and about being consistently accountable to the people you serve. This means that leaders must show their vulnerability, throw their titles out the door and be grateful for the talent that surrounds them.

Leaders that think they are the only ones capable of handling crisis and change have not taken the time to recognize the talent around them. Be grateful enough to give them ownership of their responsibilities before circumstances force their hand.

5. Too Proud To Say ‘Thank You’

I am surprised at how many leaders don’t take the time to say “thank you.” When leaders don’t say “thank you” it is a sign that they are not grateful – or at least not showing it. A leader’s choice of words makes a world of difference in the relationships they create and cultivate.

Unfortunately, many leaders believe that saying thank you diminishes their power – when just the opposite is true. I once had a leader who was very calculating about when he said thank you and the context in which he said it. You had to earn it, but even then he used it only sparingly. He began to build a selfish reputation – and soon lost the respect of others as employees started to become suspicious of his intentions. Needless to say, this leader made it all about themselves and didn’t seem to care about others. Who would ever believe that this type of leader was grateful?

People know when others deserve to be respected and appreciated. So they also know when leaders are not being grateful for their employees or mindful of the unique ways they contribute and add value to the organization. The people in my organization gravitated toward our new intern Guilherme because of his talent as well as his attitude. He reminded us why we need to be grateful and gave us good reason to be. As a result, he will be offered a full-time position at the end of his internship program – in gratitude for his contributions so far and in great anticipation for the full potential yet to be discovered.

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CHL Academy

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The cultural demographic shift™ in the United States is about the workplace and marketplace telling us that it is becoming less about the business defining the individual and more about the individual defining the business. This is exactly why Hispanics – both entering the workplace in search of the right employer who will allow them to be their authentic selves as well as those professionals who have been battling the gulf between assimilation and authenticity – are now ready to advance as 21st century leaders by activating their immigrant perspective; that is, the influence their cultural values have on the natural ways they think, act and are motivated to perform at work.