Leadership Matters: Is My Boss the Big Bad Wolf?

white wolf howls and bares teeth in forest
Oak Tree Business Systems Inc.

4 minutes

Don’t believe these five leadership myths.

Managing your team can be a slippery slope if you start falling for common leadership myths. To stand your ground, you must find a leadership style that works for you—and dispel these misconceptions to ensure that others don’t see you as the “big bad wolf.”

Myth #1: Bosses don’t work hard.

While your employees may view your job as merely an endless cycle of meetings, phone calls and chatting it up around the office, the amount of hours you put in are likely much more than those of your team members. With supervisory pressure to increase revenue, a work-life balance can be hard to come by.

Employees can take your position for granted when the tasks you complete are different from their own. When you take the time to provide clarification for processes or research ways to improve employee morale, it may not appear to others that you are working on specific tasks. For you, working hard to consider everyone’s goals—including your credit union’s vision—is just another day at the office.

However, improving relationships and task efficiencies are just as difficult as employee tasks. Plus, every decision a boss has to make can be high stakes for the company. Don’t give in to the temptation to wade into the weeds with your team and lose sight of strategic goals and improving engagement.

Myth #2: Bosses aren’t fair.

Some employees confuse fairness with being equal. Bosses are required to be fair in how they treat all employees. If you set a meeting time for 11:00 a.m. and a top performer is always late, you’re not being fair if you only discipline others and not the top performer. Being a top performer doesn’t mean they can ignore your rules.

But leaders shouldn't feel pressured to treat all their employees equally. Top performers can get the highest recognition and consideration for career growth opportunities.

Juggling employee off days, evaluations and evolving job requirements is a full-time job in itself. Plus, downsizing or adding weekend hours can make a boss unpopular, fast.

Just remember to be fair and transparent. A boss has to focus on not playing favorites while distancing themselves from social friendships on the job.

Myth #3: Bosses have to be available 24/7.

Leaders already feel the stress of working longer hours, but bosses need time to recharge or risk burnout just like everyone else on their team.

Employees shouldn't expect their boss to be available 24/7. Daily, bosses deal with employee issues, supervisor pressures, tech problems, equipment breakdowns, client complaints and more. Dealing with awkward conversations and complains is draining—be sure to take time to mentally recharge and set boundaries with your team.

Myth #4: Bosses don’t listen.

Bosses are constantly dealing with issues raised by employees or members, and the criticism may seem (to them) to be falling on deaf ears. Most of the time this isn’t the case.

Employees can lose sight of the fact that their concerns may need the consultation of another department or a scheduled meeting with a leader who is higher up the ladder. Solutions can take time, budget and brainstorming. Plus, bosses need time to form careful responses since they are words and actions are closely scrutinized.

Good bosses focus on listening and respecting others who may be affected. Doing so, over time, will highlight your value as a leader rather than the idea of the “big bad wolf” and can result in bosses happily steering the ship forward with the support of their team.

Myth #5: Bosses can’t relate.

When finding your leadership style, it’s easy to get hung up on whether you should be strictly an authority figure or a friend to your team.

Authority figures are often faced with enforcing rules that they don’t always agree with or like. And if employees don’t comply, leaders are faced with not being able to complete their own work while they deal with disciplinary action or other consequences. Being too authoritative can lead to employee engagement issues.

Being a friend doesn’t always have a positive outcome, either. Leaders have to be careful not to play favorites or risk the consequences of employee retention issues. It’s important to strike a healthy balance with your team.

Boss life can be lonely, but it shouldn’t be. While you are dealing with hiring people, firing people and taking the blame for your team’s mishaps, take time to reflect why you made it to the top. You are not the big bad wolf!

Richard Gallagher is CEO of CUES Supplier member Oak Tree Business Systems Inc., Big Bear Lake, California. With over 37 years’ experience serving credit unions, Oak Tree offers a comprehensive line of membership documents and lending forms along with marketing services that speak to your credit union demographics.

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