When do supervisors lose their leadership?


Supervision literally means “watching over”. However, in reality, it’s a lot more complex than just keeping an eye on staff. There is a leadership component in supervision. Hence a good supervisor should also be a good leader – positively influencing others to want to follow.

A bad supervisor is that supervisor who lacks leadership skills, ability or training. In other words, they ‘work’ without the leadership component of supervision.  They might think they are doing a great job, but everyone around them knows they are not. People find it very difficult to follow them because there is no leadership.

So when do supervisors lose their leadership? When they exhibit any of the following actions and behaviors:

Lead and Manage by Intimidation

When a supervisor uses force and threats to get things done, trying to intimidate others with their tone of voice, body language, and harsh words. Being abrasive, harsh, and severe.

Criticize Others

When a supervisor is insecure, they tend to overcompensate by putting other people down, especially in public. They tend to talk down on people to make themselves appear more powerful. They find things to criticize about anyone who is getting positive attention. When they need to reprimand a subordinate, they will often do it in front of other people because they think it makes them look powerful whereas it doesn’t.

Do Not Produce Results

They often talk about what needs to be done, complain about what’s not getting done, and demand that someone else does it. They rarely ever produce real results themselves and they lack initiative in getting things accomplished.

Lack Honesty and Integrity

Character is a vital part of being a great leader, and this is a non-negotiable leadership principle that has been around since the beginning of time. Supervisors who are dishonest and tend to make unethical decisions lose their leadership.

Fail to Learn From Mistakes

They rarely ever admit they are wrong and never says “I’m sorry” if need be. They tend to deny their mistakes, making it impossible to learn from those mistakes and become better as a leader or supervisor. As a result, there is a lack of respect among followers.

Lack Openness to New Ideas or Suggestions

These supervisors do not want suggestions or input from others. They take any form of suggestion or input as negative criticism instead of positive ideas. For them, “That’s the way we’ve always done it around here” or “We’ve tried that before and it didn’t work.”

Fail to Make Themselves Accountable Up or Down the Chain

They make decisions without thinking about the consequences or how the decisions might affect others. Additionally, there is no accountability, especially down the chain. Real leaders understand that they are accountable to their followers as well as their supervisors to make principle-based decisions.

Exhibit Poor Communication Skills

The reason God gave us two ears and only one mouth was for us to listen twice as much as we talked. But when a supervisor is only concerned about their thoughts and opinions without really listening to what others want to say, they will lose their leadership. A good supervisor do not interrupt or interject when people are trying to talk. They take the time to validate others in the communication process. 

Exhibit High Confidence but Low Competence

When a supervisor shows very high level of confidence but has low level of competence,  subordinates find it difficult to follow them. The supervisor comes off as cocky, arrogant, and know-it-all, but everyone around that person knows they are not good. Unfortunately, the only one who doesn’t know it is the supervisor, which amplifies their incompetence.

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