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8 Ways Emotionally Ignorant Entrepreneurs Sabotage Their Teams Neither bullies who play favorites nor cry babies who need to be loved get the results achieved by leaders who are respected and trusted.

By Sherrie Campbell

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Every entrenpreneur envisions nothing but success and team cohesiveness at startup. These dreams do not manifest for entrepreneurs who fail to provide their team with the important emotional support they need to become disciplined, patient and motivated to succeed. Here are eight ways leaders emotionally sabotage their teams and their own success by inciting lack of motivation, anxiety, anger, tense team relationships, low self-esteem, a sense of entitlement and chronic emotional upheaval.

1. Ignore or minimize the emotional climate of the team.

If you mock, humiliate, ignore or tease team members when they express frustration, exasperation, anger or fear, you are essentially telling them what they feel is wrong and insignificant. Thay will undercut their willingness and ability to perform.

You cannot succeed by withholding the understanding, acknowledgement and support of your team. Creating internal chaos leads blocks open and honest communication between yourself and your team. Team members who don't feel heard and understood will not be willing to work hard for you.

Related: 8 Clumsy Mistakes to Avoid During the Hiring Process

2. Inconsistent rules.

You must talk about your expectations for your team to know how to respond appropriately to any challenge or task. Team members will live up, or down, to what you expect, so make your expectations crystal clear.

Defined roles and responsibilities provide your team with the guidelines and boundaries necessary for them to define and succeed within their given role. When team members are confused and guessing about their responsibilities and boundaries they act out to find their boundaries. That can lead to many critical mistakes, low self-regard and problematic behavior.

3. Make your team members your friends.

Don't burden team members with your worries and concerns, either business or personal. Your team will never come to respect you if you act helpless and defeated. Instead, they will treat you as an equal or an inferior because you have exposed your weaknesses and asked their advice on your role.

Being friends takes away the very important boundaries of authority necessary to effectively lead your team. You must show your team you will stand tall and unafraid in the face of mounting problems and challenges. They need to be confident you are able to handle yourself through stress and come out the other side. Be real. Have your emotions, but do not burden you team and never play the martyr.

4. Putting team members down.

Unless you publically reward and acknowledge your team they cannot know what to strive towards. Cutting down or bad-talking team members to others on the same team creates a poor climate of fear, lack of trust and anxiety about you as their leader.

If you pull some of the team close to you while rejecting others, you create a great division in your team. Teams cannot function in any type of a healthy manner when members are not treated as equals. Playing favorites spawns anarchy as a way to balance the powers that be.

Never create envy amongst members of the same team. Envy is the most violent emotion. Its intention is to destroy whoever or whatever is envied, leading to the destruction of the team.

Related: 3 Ways to Re-Engage Your Employees

5. Punish independence and creativity.

Never punish team members for reaching outside the comfort zone or set goals. To do so makes them feel guilty for having the drive to succeed beyond what the original goals and objectives were. In doing this you stifle innovation and the possibilities of further growth. When a leader has needs everything rigidly set in only the direction they foresee, team creativity is shut down and rebellion often results.

You must see each team member as an innovative part of the puzzle. Listen to what each person on the team offers during brainstorming activities. You can't predict who will see the opportunity that can be expanded upon, elevating original goals and leading to higher and more lucrative opportunities.

Nurture independence and you nurture expansion.

6. Treating team members as an extension of you.

Linking your own image and self-worth to what your team does or doesn't do is using them for your ego and success instead of appreciating them as individuals. Using people to make you look good, is just that -- using. No one likes to be used and given no credit for their work.

Have authority over your team but allow for each member to shine in their own right. Differences should be tolerated and embraced. Needing others to represent you can turn team members into people pleasers out of the pressure to be what you want, rather than giving them enough room to develop themselves into their own individual entrepreneurs under your leadership.

7. Micromanaging team members.

Part of being a successful entrepreneur is trusting the team you have hired to be effective under your direction. When you lack this trust you become authoritarian and controlling, directing and interfering in every action the team takes. Micromanaging your team kills their growth and their ability to mature.

Every team needs a certain amount of optimal frustration to grow and to develop the resiliency necessary for further success. If you insert yourself into every move the team makes the team cannot learn to navigate the sharper edges of conflict, persistence and goal attainment necessary to achieve your desired level of success.

8. Over-protect.

When you jump in and do all the work to protect your team from the natural emotional conflicts and problems business brings, you create a sense of entitlement and inflated self-esteem that often crosses the line into narcissism and laziness. Eventually the team will expect business to be easier than it is. They will count on you to get everything done for them, no matter how they behave.This is a recipe for disaster.

You cannot inspire hard work, patience or persistence from your members if you lead from fear and pleasing. You will become an annoying one-person-show who has a gaggle of lazy, tantruming team members. To earn the respect of your team you have to let them risk failure. They may suffer along the way, but suffering is good if it leads to growth, inspiration and creativity.

To be a successful entrepreneur you must know who you are, what your goals are and how to deal effectively with people. You must possess the deep understanding that any unbalance in you will be reflected in your team's ability to succeed. Avoid the pitfalls of being over or under controlling. Successful businesses that stand the test of time are run by leaders who know when to be firm and when to give some slack. The best way to develop your team is to reward deserving behavior and letting them fail when necessary so they can learn to get back up. Be there for them with a sense of trust and support, regardless of the challenges you will face together on the climb to the top.

Related: Why Everyone on Your Team Should Leave Work Early Today

Sherrie Campbell

Psychologist, Author, Speaker

Sherrie Campbell is a psychologist in Yorba Linda, Calif., with two decades of clinical training and experience in providing counseling and psychotherapy services. She is the author of Loving Yourself: The Mastery of Being Your Own Person. Her new book, Success Equations: A Path to an Emotionally Wealthy Life, is available for pre-order.

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