Ep 49 // I Used to Be a #HorribleBoss - Here’s How I Became Better (It’s Not Too Late)

Ep 49

Nothing kills productivity like a toxic work environment. When employees don’t feel psychologically safe at work, leaders need to look inward to try and find answers. This episode focuses on what a toxic work environment looks like, why a horrible boss could be to blame, and how founders and leaders can cultivate self-awareness and identify what can be changed to help employees flourish in the workplace.

According to leadership coach (and a former horrible boss herself) Akua Nyame-Mensah, there are two kinds of horrible bosses: those who know they are horrible and don’t care, and those who are completely unaware that they are too blame for a bad working environment.

Listen all the way to the end for ways to tell if you are - or have - a horrible boss and three actionable steps leaders can take to impact the workplace positively and help keep employees mentally healthy, happy, and more productive. Horrible bosses can be cured!

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What's Covered in this Episode About Toxic Work Culture

  • Akua talks about what a toxic work culture looks like, including fighting, drama, and unhappiness, which affect wellbeing and productivity.
  • Realizing there is a problem is the first step, and
  • A toxic work environment can include remote work, not just in-office work.
  • When employees are bullied, they don’t feel safe to be themselves or show up in a meaningful way.
  • Don’t wait for negative feedback to find out you’re a terrible boss. Educate yourself.
  • Bad communication/passive-aggressive communication is a sign of a horrible boss.
  • Excluding some employees, gossip and cliques are other red flags in the workplace.
  • Deadline changes, moving the goalpost, and a lack of expectation setting will have a negative effect on employees.
  • Some symptoms of a bad boss in the workplace include unmotivated employees, stifled growth, and rapid turnover.
  • In order to change, leaders must first have self-awareness and reflect on how they show up and how their actions affect others.
  • Akua talks about her definition of a leader - someone who ensures every team member has what they need to do meaningful work.
  • Good leadership means making time to check in and getting external feedback from those who are not in an equivalent position as you.
  • Good bosses set realistic goals, can ask for help (be vulnerable), are willing to engage, and invest in policies and procedures from the beginning.
  • For a positive work environment, be sure to educate everyone and ensure your team is on the same page.
  • Don’t be afraid to look for help - Akua would love to have a consultation call with you, and she can help provide resources or work with you, your choice.

Quotes from this Episode of Open Door Conversations

  • "I think that one of the first things that we really have to do as leaders is look at ourselves first." - Akua Nyame-Mensah
  • "I think it's great that there has been a time where people are sharing what has happened, right? We all are becoming aware of the fact that this is a problem. Now, what are those next steps we're going to take?" - Akua Nyame-Mensah
  • "If you really do want to improve your lack of awareness, I'd really, really recommend that you try to go beyond talking to your founder friends, because what I see a lot of times happening when you're just talking to people who are typically in the same sort of spaces you may be working in the same country as you is that you'll tend to bounce off a lot of the worst habits and the bad habits." - Akua Nyame-Mensah
  • "I think that every leader who gets in this position, whether it's through osmosis, whether it's you know reluctantly like I did, it's really important that you educate yourself and you start to think about how can I implement what I've learned, right?" - Akua Nyame-Mensah

Mentioned in I Used to Be a #HorribleBoss - Here’s How I Became Better (It’s Not Too Late)

Get to Know the Host of the Open Door Conversations Podcast

Learn more about your host, Akua Nyame-Mensah.

Akua is a certified executive and leadership coach, recognized learning and organizational development facilitator, speaker, and former startup executive. 

Since 2018, she has had the opportunity to partner with amazing organizations, from high-growth startups to multinational brands all around the world, to maximize people, performance, and profit.  Outside of her coaching and corporate speaking engagements, she is a regular mentor, coach, and judge for various entrepreneurship-focused organizations.

Stay in touch with Akua Nyame-Mensah, Leadership & Culture Advisor:

  • Read about Akua’s services if you’d like to learn more about how you can hire her to help you strengthen your organization’s culture.

  • Complete her contact form to jump on a call.

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Here’s the transcript for episode 49 about Becoming a Better Boss

NOTE: Please excuse any errors in this transcript; it was created using an AI tool. Akua Nyame-Mensah 0:07 Welcome to the open door podcast. My name is Akua Nyame-Mensah. I also respond to Aqua and I'm a certified executive and leadership coach recognised facilitator and former sort of leader that loves supporting reluctant buyer fighting and overwhelmed leaders. I've worked with them to help them clarify where they should focus their time and energy each and every day so that they can love themselves, love their work, and ultimately love their life. If you're looking to learn leadership information and hear different perspectives, you are in the right place. My aim in this podcast is to help you see that one of the most productive and profitable things you can do is deeply understand yourself. Understand how you show up, understand how you thrive, and allow yourself to align everything in your work in your life, and in your business to support that think of this podcast as your weekly opportunity to receive leadership support. And remember, there is no one right way to lead yourself or others. Thank you so much for taking the time to join me today. Let's get started. Hello, and welcome to this week's open door conversations podcast episode. I am really excited about this particular podcast episode because I am actually repurposing a live I did a few weeks ago on a topic that I think is so important for so many of us that are leaders whether or not we have the title. And this topic is so personal to me. Because when I first started, and I first had the opportunity to not only launch the build a business and a team, I thought I was terrible. And I definitely was a horrible boss in so many ways. So if you are interested in hearing a little bit more about my experience, if you're interested in hearing about some of the things that you can potentially work on, right, and even what a horrible boss is, you want to listen to this podcast episode, because not only do I talk about some of the toxic traits of a horrible boss, but I also share specific things that you can do differently. And you can do better moving forward. So take a listen to this week's podcast episode. And let me know what you think. Hello, hello iqvia. Here, I also respond to Aqua and Akua. And I'm really excited about having the opportunity to talk about the topic I selected today. So this is something that I actually have wanted to speak about for a while. And I think that it's a topic that might be on many people's minds, especially if you live in Nigeria. And I do work with individuals in Nigeria. And I've had the pleasure of actually working in Nigeria for about four years as well. But there was something that was trending online, hashtag Horrible Bosses. And it was all about tech workers, who were talking about allegations of toxic work culture, sexual harassment, and bullying in specifically the tech space. And that's the space that I'm most familiar with and where I have most of my work experience. And so I've taken some time to put together some thoughts as someone who supports leaders and supports teams with building psychological safety and helping them think about how they might want to show up. And I thought I would share that with everyone. So if that's of interest to you, please let me know what you think, as I you know, share some of these thoughts. For some of you joining me, this might be a bit triggering, this might be a bit difficult to admit or to swallow. I think that a lot of times as a leader, it's so much easier to blame others for things that are not going well. And that's something that I definitely did as well, I very much was like It's not me, it's everybody else. And I think that one of the first things that we really have to do as leaders is look at ourselves first. And so I will be sharing a little bit more about that as we get into the conversation today. So to give you just a quick introduction, if this is your first time ever meeting me or ever listened to any of my content, hello, hi, my name is Akia. I also respond to Aqua and Akua. I'm a certified executive coach, recognised facilitator and also a speaker and I also provide one on one support to first time founders and first time executives. So I've had lots of conversations really around this because a lot of leaders that are starting off for the first time feel like they're terrible. They feel like they're bad bosses. And if you read sort of the little introduction to this conversation, depending on what platform you're watching me on actually put on there that sometimes Horrible Bosses are just not aware that they're Horrible Bosses, right? And it takes an external event for them to come to this awareness and then there's other buses that are horrible, and they just don't care because they can get away with it. Alright, so I was one of those Horrible Bosses that wasn't aware right, it took an external event to wait Hit me up to potentially shake me out to say, hey, you can do this differently. There's another way. All right, my promise to you, if you listen all the way to the end, I'm not sure how long this is going to be, but maybe about 30 minutes or so. But I promise if you listen all the way to the end, you might have some new perspectives to try on some new stories to tell yourself really about leadership and what's possible, and probably most importantly, information to share with others. Right? I hope that from this conversation, you at least take away something that you can potentially share with others. And when we get down to it, what I'm gonna be sharing actually are three thoughts that every leader should keep in mind, because with a lot of the hashtag Horrible Bosses content I see online, I feel like a lot of it's not very actionable, a lot of it's not telling people what they should be doing or could be doing. It's a lot more of sort of just venting. And I do think that's incredibly important. I think it's important that there are safe spaces where people can talk about some of the terrible things are horrible things that have happened to them. And so I think it's great that there has been a time where people are sharing what has happened, right? We all are becoming aware of the fact that this is a problem. Now, what are those next steps we're going to take? And I think that as a coach, right? That's the primary way in which I support my clients, you know, cultivating their self awareness, and then getting to that next step of what are you going to do differently? How are we going to show up differently? What are those routines? What are those habits, and I'll be sharing a little bit more about that after I talk a little bit more about what sort of toxic work culture can potentially look like. Because I think a massive part of this is that not everyone's necessarily aware of what it looks like in a only become aware of when it's too late. Alright, so I actually have some really great definitions here that I got from career contessa, if you would like the link to this particular article, feel free to reach out and let me know I'd love to share it with you. Because I think it's such a great article. So easy to read, very straightforward, and it's going to be very helpful for you. If this is something that you're trying to wrap your brain around, or if this is something that you're supporting another leader with. Alright, so a toxic work culture is one where the workplace is plagued by fighting drama, unhappy employees do to the point that productivity and I work on productivity, right, and well being of the people in the office is affected, right. So it's really about recognising that how we show up how we behave can have an impact on us as human beings, emotionally and physically and ultimately, will have an impact honestly, on the bottom line of the company. So depending on which sort of perspective you want to look at it front, right, the people perspective, profit perspective, the productivity perspective, all of those can be impacted if you're within a space, that doesn't feel psychologically safe. And if you have a toxic work environment, that's not a psychologically safe environment. I think that when we are thinking about some of these allegations of Horrible Bosses, sexual harassment, I think is pretty straightforward. For a lot of workplaces. If it's not straightforward for you, there are amazing trainers out there, people that can support you with having a better understanding of what that means. That is not my wheelhouse. That is not where I focus, but there are a lot of organisations out there that could potentially support you with that. So I'd recommend that that's something that you invest in, especially as your organisation is growing. Bullying is a very interesting concept. And I actually would put bullying within this concept of toxic work culture, because I think that the to work hand in hand, I don't think that there's any one clear definition of bullying. I think that last year, at some point in time, I might have done a live more specifically an Instagram Live on bullying, because there are so many sort of moving parts to that. So many different ways in which you can be defined. But I think ultimately, bullying is is really about once again, having people feel right, get to a point where they're unhappy, they're not productive, and they're in a workspace that's pretty much unsafe, right. They don't feel safe to be themselves, they don't feel safe to really show up. So I wanted to take this one step further, before I got to the three thoughts I had that all leaders should keep in mind in relation to being a horrible boss, just to once again, give a little bit more context and help people who are thinking to themselves, how am I supposed to know if I'm a horrible boss, right? Do I have to wait for a bad tweet? Do I have to wait until you know HR writes me up? You know, do I have to wait until you know my investors, you know, reach out and say something? No, you don't. Okay, the first step is really making sure that you're educated and I'm probably going to sound a little redundant, I'm probably gonna sound like a little bit of a broken record, actually, when I get to a certain point, but there's a reason to it. And I think it's so important that we make sure that we go over and over again. So in terms of thinking about a toxic workplace, what can this actually look like? Okay, and the key thing here and one of the reasons why I really love this article that I got this from on career contessa is that you can also have a toxic work environment, if your employees are working from home, you can still create a lot of toxicity, even if you're not physically around people. It's about behaviours and expectations and the culture that you're creating. So let's talk a little bit about what that actually looks like. Right? Because we can talk about toxic toxicity all day we want but what does this really mean? So the first thing that's on this list that I think is great is bad communication, that communication passive aggressive communication, and there actually are definitions of bullying within the workplace that in cludes telling different people different things, so that they are like sort of working against each other. And it leads to really terrible results within the organisation. And that's actually very closely related to the number two thing on the list. And that is exclusion Gasby behaviour clicks, right? Different people having access to different types of information, and maybe hoarding information so that not everyone's on the same page. Once again, that's not great for your business. The third thing on here is really around expectation setting. I'm gonna get to this a little bit later when I talk about the three thoughts that all leaders should keep in mind. But that's really just poor leadership at the end of the day, right. So there's just not a lot of clarity around what needs to be done. And potentially, there could also be an element of the deadlines and things constantly being changed. So the leader has sort of one expectation, it's not communicated. And they think that their employee can read their mind. And they're, you know, yelling at the employee, because the employee didn't get it done at the right time, but it was actually never communicated, right. That's poor leadership, that's lack of clarity, that's lack of communication. And that's also sort of moving the goalposts, which can also be considered bullying in some definitions. Another thing a lot of times you'll see in toxic workplaces, unmotivated employees. And so what that typically means is that there's a disconnect between what needs to actually happen in terms of work, and how employees are actually showing up stifled growth. So it's really difficult for a company to get to the next level, if they're creating an environment where people don't want to stay, or people don't feel comfortable working and showing up, right. And that's incredibly important within the startup space where you do need to fail, you need to try new things, and different things might be happening. All right, the next one I have on here is rapid employee turnover. So this really should be something that all leaders should be looking at. You know, sometimes there are changes within a business where you might have brought on a group of people, and they just don't make sense for the future. That's very different from people who are constantly leaving. And so trying to get to the bottom of what's really happening. And if there's anything you can do differently as a leader, can be very helpful, right, and help once again, to stifle that poor leadership. Alright, the next thing on here, and this, I think, really relates to those of us who are working from home is having no work balance, I'm sorry, no work life balance, right? A constant expectation to work, whether or not it's explicit or implicit, and then constant off hours communication, right, that's not good for anyone, we have to turn off at some point in time, we have to rest at some point in time, I have a podcast episode all about rest, and how important it is for you to take a vacation, right, and how we even just eat to rest every single day, right. And so if you're within an environment or a culture where you're not allowed to rest, you constantly have to communicate those expectations are there that might be a toxic workplace. Alright, I have three more you feel burnt out. And I think that in terms of burnout, or burnt out, that can look different for everyone. But typically, what that means is that you've lost interest. And so you can lose interest. Because, you know, it's not, you know, challenging to you, you can lose interest because it's so much work. And you know, you can't get it done. One way I've seen this in a lot of startups is that people lose interest, because the goals that have been set are so big, that it's overwhelming, and the organisation hasn't provided the resources, or they don't have the bandwidth to actually achieve them. So rather than even trying and just give up, right, another thing that could be happening is no forward movement, right. So things aren't moving forward, you don't feel like you're moving forward, you feel like you're sort of stuck in circles, that could also be an indication of a toxic environment. And last but not least, you as a human being might have this intuition, this internal intuition, or this gut feeling that something's not right, right, that that something is not going well, those could all be indicators, once again, of a toxic workplace. If you're interested in learning more about this, or you're wanting to know more, feel free to reach out. And I will share the link to the article that I got some of these pieces from but I think it's always very important to make sure that we're on the same page around what a toxic workplace could look like. So we can then talk about right what actions we can take and what we can do differently at leaders to really move to the next level and get our business to the next level. One thing that might be interesting to some of you listening to this who have no real idea who I am, is talking a little bit about my experience and my lack of experience. So one of the reasons why I feel like I can have a conversation about this is because I've worked in both Ghana, Nigeria, over about four years working for a high growth startup. And so I know what it actually takes to build a team from scratch. And I made many mistakes doing it right. There are many things that I definitely did, that probably led to people leaving the company, feeling like I wasn't the best leader possible, and potentially even things related to fully right. And more than happy to say that some of you listening to this might not be willing to admit it, but I'm more than happy to admit it. I am not perfect. I'm a human being if you're listening to this, you're not perfect, and you're a human being. And so for me, I have definitely seen from my own actions, the impact that I can have on others that I can have on culture. And then of course I've also seen this right with my peers and other people who are in similar positions to me and now as an executive and leadership coach. I definitely see it with my clients as well right through Through having these workshops, through having conversations, whether they're one on one or group, I've had the opportunity really to engage with a lot of leaders, both in West Africa and around the world on this concept, right? This concept really of being a horrible boss, psychological safety, what a toxic workplace is what bullying might look like in the workplace. Right. So speaking from my experience, and then also some of the things I've learned through supporting others, and research as well, that's where all of this is really coming from, right. And I think one of the things that I really want to speak to when we aren't talking about the three things that all leaders should keep in mind, and so I'm getting to the point where I'm talking about what we can do better, right, what comes next, what are the actions we can take is really just recognising that we can all do better, right? All of us can do better. I don't care who you are, where you're from, all of us can do better. And I think another thing to keep in mind is that none of us can do this on our own right. So whether you're thinking about from the perspective of your own career or building a business, we can't do this on our own right, we need other people, both in our personal professional life skills to move forward. So I think it makes a lot of sense for us to reflect on, how are we showing up? And how are our behaviours, right and our actions impacting others? Right, I think that is really so key. And I think it starts with really building your awareness. And so the first thing I have on here in terms of thoughts, for all leaders to keep in mind is the fact that many leaders, whether you're a founder, whether you're an entrepreneur, whether you're a business owner, whether you're middle manager, wherever you are within that hierarchy, many of us lack awareness, right, we have a lack of awareness. And I think that when it comes to recognising that we have a lack of awareness, I think another key thing for us to keep in mind is that as human beings, we mimic, right, and we will look at what other people do. And we will do what we think needs to be done based on what we've seen before based on what we've read, based on how people respond to us. And so I think for a lot of leaders, it's not necessarily their fault, they show up being horrible, right? Because maybe the only types of leaders they've had in their lives is horrible leaders, right. And so if you've had only terrible representations of leadership, it's going to be really difficult for you to think or imagine that there could be another way. I don't think that's the valid excuse to use. But I do think that's an important thing for us to keep in mind as we talk about having the lack of awareness. Right. So really asking yourself, what are your models, right for leadership, what comes to mind when you think of a leader, and that can actually start off with having you define what a leader is and what a leader is supposed to do? So what I put down here, and the point I sort of came to when I was working full time, and building a team within a tech enabled startup is that a leader is meant to create an enabling environment, right. And so for me, it was not about me necessarily showing up and hitting certain KPIs, or, you know, doing a lot of press or, you know, needing to show the investors, I was doing a certain thing, it was about making sure every member of my team had the resources they need in order to show up, right, so you can come up with your own definition. I'm not suggesting you use this definition. That's my definition. And that's what I like to keep in mind. So why do lots of leaders have this lack of awareness? I think the first reason and this is something I hear from a lot of my clients is that they never create the time to check in. So depending on how you became a leader, so for example, if I take myself, right, I sort of just stumbled into it, I was hired, they were like, do it right, I was pushed into it, it's not something I wanted to do. And that's why I just sort of described that type of leader that persona as the reluctant leader, they sort of have just stumbled into it. And a lot of startup founders have just stumbled into it, right? They might be software engineers that all of a sudden become CTOs or CEOs, right? They might be project managers, and I come from more of a project management background, right, that all of a sudden are being told they have to keep all these things in mind. So a part of it might just be that there's a bit of reluctance, right to actually check in and see where they're going and where they're at. Because they might not have the time, they might not even know that something they need to do. Another reason why there might be a lack of awareness is because they've had bad role models, right? They've never seen what and I'm gonna put this in quotes, because I don't think there's anything such as a good leader. But I think that's something for us to keep in mind. What are the models of leadership that we see? Right? If we're talking about it from the startup space, what we'll see is there are a lot of models of leadership that actually might not be enabling, depending on the environment that they're in. And so you know, within the startup space, right, you know, you need to be innovative, you need to be maybe yelling at people, right? What are some of those stories you tell yourself about leadership? Where do they come from? So recognising that a lack of awareness could come from bad role models, because if you're trying to compare yourself to someone and be like, Well, I'm not doing it as part poorly as him but that doesn't mean you're necessarily showing up in a way that's an enabling environment for your employees. Alright, another reason why there might be a lack of awareness is because a leader has bad or unhelpful thinking patterns. And a lot of these bad unhelpful thinking patterns come from having different biases, because once again, we are human beings. So because naturally as human being We have biases, right. And those biases pretty much are shortcuts to help us get to a point. So enough to spend too much brainpower and energy, those biases really might be getting in our way of having a capacity and awareness to really support people. I think one of the biggest biases I see especially within the startup space, and the people I support, and I and most this is something that I also suffer with is confirmation bias. And what that is, is sort of something happening, right. And you feel like you knew that was going to happen. And so it just reconfirms some of your pre existing notions about something happening. Let me break that down. Because that wasn't very specific. You hire someone, maybe from a specific culture, or a specific ethnic group, they do something and you use sort of a stereotype or a generalisation to say, hey, yeah, I knew that was gonna happen, because that's what those types of people do. Right? So not only is it discriminatory, but you can recognise that that's probably not true in every situation. And you were sort of looking for it. Right. So the barest essence of it is going to force you to feel like yep, I knew it. And because you're a human being, you will try and confirm it. And you're like, that's the truth, right? And unfortunately, it's probably not the truth in every situation. So recognising that we have these biases, we make these assumptions, right, we have these unhelpful thinking patterns really can make it a lot easier for us to be leaders who don't do horrible things, right. So an unhelpful thinking pattern can be along the lines of associating being a good leader with being very much a hard ass. And I know I was very much a hard ass leader when I first started, right? And I've sort of tried to break that story, right? There's some situations maybe where it does call me to be a hard ass right. So recognising that leadership is situational, right? Is a new thought, a new story that I now tell myself, all right, I know it's not that easy. But that's sort of the starting point. I just wanted to share that as an example. So I'm sure you're thinking to yourself, how can I improve this. And I always think that there's three basic ways to improve your lack of awareness. The first is by getting feedback, right. So by recognising that you can ask others for feedback, right, you can hopefully receive that feedback. And there's many ways in which you can do that. The second is by you know, potentially taking assessments. So simple assessments such as the MBTI. Disc, there's so many different ones out there, I can help you to get a vocabulary to talk about some of the things that might get in your way as being a leader, right, some of the things that you might overlook, you might under look right, that will help you right deal with some of these things that might create a toxic work environment. The last thing here, and this is really something that I really support a lot of my clients with, is the reflection piece. So beyond getting that external, sort of like stimuli, or that external feedback, which are both assessments and feedback, you can also do internal sort of assessments, right? Where you are reflecting to try and figure out what's really happening, how you feel about how you show up. And if there's anything different that you can do some additional things that you can keep in mind to improve this. And as I say, some of these things, I just want to note that this is not necessarily all the case, like all the time, always the case, like I try to have as much of a nuanced conversation, even though I know this is incredibly one sided. But I do think there is a lot of the blind leading the blind, and I know when I was a leader, that was definitely an issue. And so if you really do want to improve your lack of awareness, I'd really, really recommend that you try to go beyond talking to your founder friends, because what I see a lot of times happening when you're just talking to people who are typically in the same sort of spaces you may be working in the same country as you is that you'll tend to bounce off a lot of the worst habits and the bad habits. So I really would recommend if this is something that you want to improve that you go beyond talking to your founder friends or whatever level you're at friends, and you look for other sources of, you know, reflecting, and also trying to build that feedback muscle. Okay. I also think that this also comes from potentially for some teams and some businesses, investors, right. I think that a lot of investors don't understand how to manage teams, I think that a lot of investors also don't understand the pressure sometimes that comes with, you know, getting investments, getting funding, and some of the unrealistic goal setting that comes with it. And so that's another thing that I wanted to put on here. And I'll talk a little bit more about unrealistic goal settings, actually, in the third sort of thought that a leader should keep in mind. But I think that when it comes to lack of awareness, it also comes from potentially only engaging with investors and only getting feedback from investors and not other stakeholders, right. So very similar to only talking to founder friends who probably just reinforce some of the bad habits that you have. All right. Another thing I have on here is realistic goal setting. You know, recognising that you can have other allies. So depending on how big your company is, HR can be a really good like a really good ally, if they have the resources and training to support you. And then most importantly, I think that if you are a leader and you are listening to this, or I would recommend that you share this with the leader, maybe who's dealing with some of these issues that I shared earlier, is educating yourself. I think that every leader who gets in this position, whether it's through osmosis, whether it's you know reluctantly like I did, it's really important that you educate yourself and you start to think about how can I implement what I've learned, right? So it's not just about Learning it but implementing it as well. Okay, let's get to the second point. The second point I have on here. And the second thought I think all leaders should keep in mind to really go from being a horrible boss, maybe to an aware boss, is maybe that second state that the state that it'd be great for all leaders to get to, is a lack of willingness to engage. Okay, so why do we do this? Why do leaders not have the willingness to engage and once again, as I talk through this, this is totally me, I was not one that wanted to engage. This is something that I had to learn the hard way that was important and necessary. So typically, leaders right that I work with, they're saying that they're not always willing to engage, because they have a perceived lack of time and energy. And once again, depending on how you define what success looks like, in your position, as a leader, that's really going to have an impact on how you show up and you behave. And so for a lot of leaders, they feel like they cannot, you know, give the time and energy to the team that their team might need. The second thing I have on here are once again, assumptions and stories about how leaders show up, leaders shouldn't have to talk twice, leader shouldn't have to over explain, as a leader, my team should just know what I want, because obviously, they can read my mind. Right? Once again, another reason why leaders sometimes aren't willing to engage is bad role models, right? So maybe they've seen other people do something and they think that it's a successful way to show up. And so they're just not willing. Because you know, that other leader doesn't do it. That other founder doesn't engage with their team, why do I need to? Okay, the next one I have on here is the lack of willingness to ask for help, right. So it is difficult to ask for help, I think even if you're paying someone. And so if you recognise that you've built your awareness around that, right, that might also contribute to your unwillingness to engage that unwillingness to ask for help is very similar to not wanting to admit you're wrong or not wanting to admit you don't know. And I know for some leaders that makes it difficult for them to have a conversation, especially within a startup space, where you don't always know what's going to happen next. And so sometimes having a conversation with someone around that might be very anxiety inducing. And so overall, that lack of willingness to engage comes from, I think, a lack of willingness to be vulnerable, right, and to admit that you also are a human right, because for some leaders write the story, they tell themselves that I have to be strong, I'd be bigger and better than everyone, I have to outwork everyone, at least those are the stories I told myself. If that resonates with you, let me know in the comments. But for me, at least, that's something I know that very much came up. So now that I've shared a little bit about that y piece, let's talk about how you can improve this. And it really just comes from starting to think about where you want to spend your time and energy. So it comes from being willing to experiment, being willing to try new things, being willing to put yourself out there. And most importantly, when it comes to where you spend your time building new habits and routines, and really just starting to, I guess, reframe how you're showing up as a leader. And you know, at the end of the day, if your people are doing the right thing, everyone wins. So if you are investing in someone, if you do have a team, it just makes the most sense to try and create the best environment for them possible. Even if you don't think that's the definition of what a leader means or what a leader should be doing. I think it is. But you know, really just check in with yourself and ask yourself, What can I do to help other team members become successful and be successful? What part you know, what part can I play? Right? And how much time can I allocate to this, you feel like you can't allocate the time, it's really important that you find someone who can do that. All right, the last thing I have on here in terms of what leader should keep in mind, and that is the lack of expectation setting. It's either a lack of expectation setting, or terrible expectation setting. Okay, it's one of those two could be a combination of both. And I know that I was very much that doing this. And so why did we do this? Why does this happen? Right. And I think that this is especially an issue within startups, because by nature, startups are constantly evolving. And, you know, people might feel like, they don't have time to write things down. And it's gonna be updated tomorrow anyway, so we shouldn't do anything different. I disagree. I think that every time things update, or you should try something, you're trying something different, you should try and document as much as possible. Whilst this has happened. There might be a culture not educating everyone and leaving people out. Right. So that goes back to what I was talking about in terms of bad communication, a toxic workplace, that's just kind of how it's always been. And so no one's ever thought to break that cycle. Another thing that could be coming up in terms of lack of expectation setting or terrible expectation setting is that there's been no investment in a process or policies until it's too late. Right? So I think that even if you are two people within an organisation, right, just two co founders, I think that you can set up an agreement between each other, right. And I think that it really needs to start when you first begin. I think that even if you're one person, you should be writing down processes. And you should be writing down you know, boundaries, so you can make sure that you're able to show up and be efficient and effective with your time. That's something I do when I work primarily by myself. Alright, another reason why there's a lack of expectation setting could come from a culture of no one really being responsible, right? So sort of just passing the potato and no one really being responsible for anything. And the last one I have on Hear, and this is sort of a reiteration around what I mentioned before, but goals that are too big to ever achieve, right. And this sound, once again, can be somewhat related, I think, to fundraising potentially. So really just recognising that there might be a lack of expectation setting or terrible expectation setting, because the goal setting process the KPI process, the OKR process, however you want to call it, you know, whatever you want to call it today, it's just not a very good process and doesn't actually lead people to have an understanding of what they need to do of how they're supposed to show up in order to get the company the business to the next level, or generate whatever revenue you're looking to generate. All right. So that's it in terms of lack of expectation setting. So how can we improve this? What can leaders do differently moving forward? I think the first is really sort of setting policies. And once again, I think that even if you are a company of one, you can set policies, aka boundaries. And approaches from day one, I really just record recommend that setting policy. So you know, what you say yes to and no to can be the most simplest thing, right? And you can definitely do that for yourself, even if you work for yourself, right? So setting policies, setting definitions, really making sure that you're educating yourself. And as your company gets bigger, making sure that you're educating everyone, and everyone's really on the same page. I think another thing that could be very helpful with this is checking in on your goals, because I think for so many companies, they just set their goals once a year. And that's it, they don't really check in on it, right. And so checking in on your goals, checking in on your progress, celebrating your progress, right, and making sure that you are giving your employees and your team achievable goals. And when I say this, right, and I do a lot of work with startups, especially early stage startups, where I'm supporting them with with thinking about where their time and energy should go. And a lot of them are always talking about KPIs, KPIs, and OKRs. So really just recognising that, you know, if you have this big, hairy, scary goal, whatever you want to call it, you need to be able to break it down into achievable chunks, so that the people supporting you, once again, don't get overwhelmed, right, don't feel like you know, ambivalent, and are motivated and excited to actually, you know, charge towards it, right. So you can stretch them a little bit. But it shouldn't be something that's absolutely ridiculous and improbable. Because that's not going to be helpful for, you know, motivating that employee, you can potentially provide that big, hairy, scary, improbable goal to investors. But that's definitely not something that you should only be sharing with your employees. Okay. So ultimately, really, what I'd love to recommend everyone who's watching this, if you're watching the replay, if you're watching this live, that you really need to think about redefining your role as a leader. And I think that as you redefine that role, you need to keep those three things in mind, you need to keep in mind that you need to cultivate your self awareness that you need to be willing to engage. And you really need to learn how to set expectations, and do that constantly. I think all three of those things are important elements of being able to show up and being an effective leader. If you would love some support with this, please feel free to reach out, you're welcome to check out my website. I have a blog that has a lot of resources. I think a lot of guides a lot of step by step guides that can support you if these different elements. And if you are interested in working with me one on one, you're also welcome to reach out the process is pretty straightforward. All you do is sign up for a consulting call. And on that call, either I'll provide you with resources or we can decide to work together it's really up to you. But thank you so much for taking the time to listen today. I hope that you're having an amazing day, whatever time it is, and I hope that you give some thought to this concept of being a horrible boss, and share this right share this live with somebody who maybe needs to hear it. Thank you again, stay safe and stay sane. I thank you so much for taking the time to listen to today's episode. If you enjoyed what you heard today, please share it with your friends. We can continue this conversation on social media the links to my socials so that is LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. You can find them in the show notes. If you tagged me in a story and include the hashtag hashtag ask Akua I will share a special little gift with you. Thank you so much once again for your time and I cannot wait to share my next episode with you stay safe and sane.


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