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People Leave Managers or Leaders, Not Companies

Updated: Aug 29, 2022

How do you identify 'model' managers and leaders, and what can do you about it if you're one?

We've all heard of this saying but is it really true? Personally, I don’t only believe it is true- I KNOW it is!

I first heard this saying when I was in my first job. We were a team of likeminded people- we supported each other, we made sure we succeeded as a team, we worked hard and we played hard. It was a great team and I enjoyed my work experience with them. And we’re still keeping in touch even after 20 years!

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the manager. He did extremely well ALL the things a manager shouldn’t do. He was self-centred, unsupportive, condescending, demanded authority and control, took credit for things that went well and played the blame game when things went wrong. He was certainly a ‘model’ (I’m being cheeky!) manager- yes, a manager we should NEVER be!

While we were determined and focused in getting work done, we were appalled by this manager’s behaviour and actions. One of my team members uttered this famous saying and went on to share that the manager was the main reason for the department’s high staff turnover. Most people just couldn’t stand him- not only people in the department but also people in other departments or subsidiary companies! We persevered for as long as we could before leaving him for greener pastures.

I was in my early 20s then and this experience had thought me what I should never be. It was clear to me that I wanted to be the exact opposite so that my team and the people I work with would be collaborative and thrive in a positive and conducive work environment. They need not suffer like how I did in my first job. I’m a big advocate of working in harmony and a firm believer of the team succeeding or failing as one. I often told my team that we are only as quick as the last runner so everyone has to be supportive of each other in order to achieve success.

I’ve met many similar characters throughout my career and each time it reinforces my belief and desire to be a great manager and leader to my team and the people I work with.

So how do you identify a ‘model’ (I’m still cheeky!) manager or leader?

#1 - Me, myself and I (self-centred)

These managers or leaders aren't really bothered about fulfilling the organisation’s vision and mission, or aligning the people’s goals with corporate objectives. It's mostly about their own individual performance and getting noticed for promotion and annual bonus. They only care for themselves, especially their reputation and how they progress in their career.

#2 - I’m strong and mighty (narcissist)

These managers or leaders often belittle their people and ridicule their work. Threats (it’s their way to control others) are commonly used by them on team members to get things done. They would also instil fear (another way they control others) and negative thoughts on their people, which results in their self-doubt and low morale where they would perceive their low value to the organisation.

#3 - Use people as tools

These managers or leaders don’t consider employees as the organisation’s greatest assets. Instead, employees are considered to be mere tools or means to achieving a goal. There is little or no concern for their happiness or well-being since the motive for hiring them was purely to get things done. They also feel people are easily replaced and there’s no need to be compassionate or empathise with them. If they’re not performing or good enough, just fire and hire. High levels of stress, turnover, absenteeism, and burnout are clearly visible in the organisation.

#4 - Control freak

These managers or leaders want control over all decisions and they would kick a fuss when not consulted on any matter. They would also sweat the small stuff as they distrust the team. Things that are perceived by them as important will be handled by them and rarely get delegated to others. They are autocratic (my way or the highway) so their communication is usually a one-way traffic. They don’t want any input from the team because they know best. As a result, the team’s work scope is often limited and that hinders their professional development.

#5 - Shine the spotlight on me

These managers or leaders crave the spotlight. Sharing the spotlight is an alien concept to them and they’ll readily take full credit for the team’s work. They don’t recognise the team’s effort and contribution, and feel the team had merely carried out the instructions given without any value-add. There is no acknowledgement or praise for the team, often leaving them frustrated and feeling worthless.

What can you do?

If you are able to identify some of the above characteristics in you, you’ve just taken the all-important first step in the right direction. Awareness is key and with this awareness, you can plan and make the effort to develop these areas.

You can invest time and effort in personal growth and development. Emotional intelligence is a key skill to have that helps you succeed in life and at the workplace. Coaching is excellent in helping with mindset shift so that you are able to consider things from different perspectives. Being a ‘model’ (there I go again!) manager or leader is only a problem if you aren’t aware or don’t do anything about it. It becomes a great opportunity when you’re aware and prepared to consciously change.

I am here to support you!

I am passionate about coaching and facilitating executive, leadership and personal development and transformation so that people become better versions of themselves at their workplaces and in their personal lives. Specialising in emotional intelligence and human behaviour, I help people deal with the sometimes overwhelming prospects of leading and connecting with people, staying focused and achieving results.

I am not only passionate about helping people, I believe it is my privilege to use my background, credentials, experience and knowledge to help others succeed in their professional and personal lives.

Connect and get in touch!

Do get in touch if and when you’re interested to be coached by yours truly. I look forward to being your coach!

You may email me at to arrange a 30-min strategy session. You'll also receive a FREE behavioural check using a powerful model to find out more about yourself.


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