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The Red Flag for Managers and Leaders

Make no mistake! The type of manager or leader who says, "I'll just do it myself; it's easier", or "at least it will be done properly", might not be a sign of efficiency, being a hard worker or a hands-on approach. It can be the sign of: 


- Inability to train and develop others.

- Inability to clearly communicate the required outcome.

- Inability to effectively manage or lead others.

- Inability to let go of control.

- Lack of authority, and the manager or leader is not being listened to. 

- Wanting to gain recognition by making themselves the martyrs of "I have to do everything if I want to have it done properly." 

- Lack of self-esteem and wanting to make themselves look more important than they actually are.


Don't be fooled by the "I am a hard worker because I do everything"; look into the management capabilities of these managers and leaders. We have seen this behaviour many times, and whilst it is viewed positively, it is likely to indicate a lack of skill, self-esteem or authority. 

When I told this to a group of leaders, they fought back. Of course!:-)) They said that they were taught that they needed to help their employees. Okay, but helping looks different at this level. Help at:


  • Line colleague level - Doing the job of your colleagues together with them.

  • Supervisor level - Showing/training how to do the job to meet required criteria.

  • Managerial level - Discuss with the supervisor why the staff member cannot do the job or train the staff (same as the supervisor, depending on the structure). Managerial help is arranging the resources that allow the staff to do their jobs.

  • Leadership level - Discuss with the manager why the staff cannot do the job. If the manager cannot do the job, the leader must look into his or her way of managing performance (refer to the above list) and find resources that enable the manager to do their job.


If people have been performance managed well, i.e. trained, expectations clarified, and have their resources but are still unable to do the role, you remove the person. This is what competent managers and leaders do; they do not do the people's jobs under their management. They have other things to do, and the moment they end up doing their employees' jobs, they abandon their jobs, making them unnecessary and overpaid. 


Here is a good example of that from the hotel industry: the general manager helps her staff clean the rooms during a busy period (post on LinkedIn). This is where managers get their wires crossed. The fact that she had to step in and clean the rooms indicates severe staff shortages, hence failure from her side. Her role is to ensure the departments are fully manned, especially during peak times. She failed, so she stepped in to make the employees feel she was supporting them. Looking at the LinkedIn photos made me think, “Why do you think we are stupid enough not to see through the charade?” Unfortunately, employees buy into these types of actions when senior leaders cover up their failures with the pretence of helping. We do not expect general managers to clean rooms, wait on tables or check people in. That’s not the job. The job is to ensure resources are available so tasks/services can be done in a well-planned manner with as little stress on the staff as possible. She failed at that and thought, let’s use it for self-marketing. Anybody with a little bit of common sense sees through this.


So, doing the job of your employees is on you. Don't start blaming them. First, look into the mirror. 


If you want to change your HR practices, here are 365 things to consider:



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