Last week I wrote a blog about how a tech can earn more money without becoming a manager. If, however, you still want to pursue the management track, please know that leadership is a skill in its own right. You may be a great tech, but that doesn't mean you'll be a great manager.
In that vein, here are some behaviors that I see most often in poor leaders:
#1 You don't seek feedback, or if you do, it's for the wrong reason.
I think everyone has had the experience of being asked for feedback, sometimes even in a formal program, and then have all that feedback subsequently ignored. Some managers like to say they welcome feedback just so they can look like the kind of person who, well, welcomes feedback. But, in reality, they have no intention of ever using it.
Don't do that. Don't ask for feedback unless you're prepared to actually implement some of it. It's a different story if all the feedback you receive sucks out loud and you can't use it, but at least go in with the best intentions. There's nothing worse for employee morale than to make them feel like they're being condescended to.
#2 You never exhibit vulnerability.
You may be that person who knows everything about everything. If so, you should make plans to donate yourself to science, because that's one heck of a claim.
Maybe you're not perfect, but maybe you think you need to project that image to gain and retain the respect of your direct reports. Well, that's just dumb, and here's why: Your staff knows that you're not supernatural, which is what you'd have to be to have all the answers all the time. By pretending like you do, you are only portraying yourself as someone who thinks he/she knows everything — in other words, a phony and/or an obnoxiously insecure person.
Also, acting like you know it all is bound to make your staff feel insecure. If you can't admit to not knowing something, then they know that there will be quite a few times when you're basically taking them down blind avenues.
Just remember: You hired your staff members for their expertise. Take advantage of that.
#3 You're unavailable.
I had a boss once who boasted about his open door policy at every opportunity. The only problem was, the door might have been open but he was never in his office. That's like saying someone can have the keys to your car any time but then hiding the car.
It is true that with a management role, there is a lot of liaising to do with upper management. You should never let that take over your availability for your team. I'm fairly sure upper management doesn't need every second of your time.
If you're chronically unavailable then it will be translated by your team that you just don't care. And why should they care if you don't?
Some managers get so involved in the day-to-day that they don't even realize they're committing one or more of these leadership sins. Make sure you're not one of them.
Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.