10 Hidden Ways You Might Be Undermining Your Managers

It’s rare to meet a business owner or CEO who intentionally undermines the authority of the other leaders and managers in their organization. They’re out there, but mostly what you’ll find are good-hearted leaders who are doing it without realizing it (and secondarily, setting the scene for it to happen throughout the culture). Here are ten ways you might be innocently undermining your managers (and management culture) without realizing it:

  1. Replying to emails addressed to them that you’re cc’d on.
  2. Sitting in on their meetings.
  3. Giving your cell phone number to the client so they can call you “if anything comes up.”
  4. Criticizing or voicing frustration with them openly in front of their team (in person or an email thread).
  5. Letting your office be a place people can come to back-door complain about decisions they don't like.
  6. Stopping by their desk and interrupting their meeting because you “just need a quick answer”.
  7. Directing their work without you having a position on the org chart and a functional job title (Business owner is neither of those)
  8. Not having an org chart. (Or pretending it’s flat).
  9. Putting someone in charge of a project but requiring them to keep you constantly up to date.
  10. Undoing or diminishing consequences they've set for a team member who they felt needed it.

Notice what all of these habits have in common?They’re all ways to keep a hold on work and responsibility that you’re afraid to let go of.  Here’s the thing: It’s reasonable to be afraid to let go. It’s just not reasonable to think you can cultivate other leaders until you do.

To relax into their true authority role, your managers need room to breathe — to lead, to fail, and to learn. They’re going to need your help at many points along the way. The best thing you can do today is to start rebuilding their trust that your office — that your authority — is a safe place to go when they do.

Looking for ways you may have been using your authority to chip away at theirs — however innocently — is the place to begin.

Jonathan Raymond