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It’s time for a hard truth many executives don’t like to hear: Most teams think their biggest problem wears a suit and sits at the head of the table. Too many leadership teams are living out a real-life parody of Michael Scott from The Office — well-meaning but disastrously out of touch. Here’s the blunt reality: when your team dreads meetings and morale is low, the first place to look is in the mirror.

Leadership in a Bubble

Here’s what’s happening: Senior leaders are often trapped in a bubble, obsessed with how they’re perceived by the board and their bosses, while the bottom line dictates every move. This relentless focus can lead to a toxic culture where decisions are made with little regard for the people who execute them. The result? A disengaged, undervalued team that loses respect for those at the top. Employees feel like cogs in a machine rather than valued contributors, leading to high turnover rates and a lack of innovative ideas.

Misplaced Priorities

Leadership today isn’t about showing up like Superman, ready to single-handedly save the day. Those days are gone. The modern ‘superpowered’ executive knows that real strength comes from empowering their team. If your leadership style hasn’t evolved beyond commanding and controlling, you’re not just behind the times — you’re standing in the way of your own company’s success.

The Emotional Toll on Teams

When leaders fail to connect on a human level, teams suffer. Many feel that their input is undervalued or ignored entirely, leading to frustration and a lack of engagement. This emotional disconnect can be profoundly demoralizing, fostering an environment where creativity and passion go to die. Team members start counting hours instead of making them count, leading to a culture of minimum effort and maximum dissatisfaction.

The Symptom of Side Talk

One significant symptom that manifests within teams under such leadership is quiet but deadly side talk. Often, it just takes one person feeling disrespected or neglected before they begin to share their negative experiences with others. This can quickly lead to a wildfire of discontent spreading through the ranks, with team members collectively doubting the competence and intentions of their leaders. Once this starts, it’s usually too late to extinguish the damage already done.

What Teams Really Need

Teams need leaders who listen, who are genuinely interested in the feedback from the ground, who make decisions that show they truly value their people’s input and well-being. It’s not just about keeping morale high; it’s about making your team feel respected and involved in the journey. This involves more than the occasional team-building exercise—it requires a consistent, genuine interest in fostering an inclusive, supportive work environment.

A Simple Shift to Start Today

If you’re looking for a straightforward change you can implement today, start with this: Begin every meeting with a check-in. Ask your team members how they are, what’s on their mind, and what support they need from you. This small gesture shows you care about them as individuals, not just as employees. It sets a tone of empathy and respect and opens channels of communication that might otherwise remain closed.

Time for a Change

If you’re ready to stop being the bottleneck and start being the leader your team needs, I’m hosting a free 45-minute webinar, “Lead Strong Without the Strain: Enhancing Team Dynamics at the Top.” This isn’t your typical leadership pep talk. We’re going to tackle the tough issues:

  • How to break out of the executive bubble and engage with your team on a meaningful level.
  • Strategies for making decisions that reflect a deep respect for your team’s input and well-being.
  • The shift from authority-driven to empathy-led leadership.

Join us as we dive into practical, actionable strategies that will transform you from a boss into a leader who inspires loyalty and drives success through genuine team empowerment.

Register for the webinar

Michael King is an executive coach renowned for transforming complexity into clarity. With over a decade of guiding Fortune 500 leaders, Michael is the visionary behind the Apex Automated Coaching System for teams. Known as the TEAMS Coach, he empowers tired executives, who are frustrated by the exhaustive demands of their roles with minimal return, to radically enhance their productivity and results. Michael’s approach is straightforward and impactful, focusing on actionable strategies that energize executive teams and catalyze their ability to thrive at an entirely new level. If you’re ready to multiply your outcomes tenfold and lead with renewed vigor and precision, Michael’s robust frameworks and innovative methods are your gateway to unprecedented success in today’s dynamic business environment.

Schedule a call here.

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