Seven Ways Leaders Frustrate Their Followers

Do you have “Frustrated Followers”? Sometimes you can do the right thing or make the right decision and still frustrate your team members. However, you want the frustrations they experience to be the exception rather than the rule. Frustrated followers will ultimately under-produce, walk away, or undermine the leader whether intentionally or unintentionally. John Maxwell, in his book Developing the Leader Within You, suggests seven ways that leaders frustrate followers. They are based on a survey conducted by J.C. Stachle and are listed in order of importance. All of these are avoidable. My comments are in italics. Here they are:


  1. Failure to give credit for suggestions. An effective leader is more concerned with the progress of the organization, the development of the team, and the fulfillment of the mission than who gets credit for particular ideas. On the other hand, please be sure that you do not get too caught up in who gets credit if you are a team member. An effective leader will share credit for victories and take responsibility for defeats.
  2. Failure to correct grievances. If you are a leader, you are a problem-solver. Your ability to discern the depth and validity of complaints along with the determination to correct grievances endears you to your followers.
  3. Failure to encourage. Encourage, praise, encourage, praise, rebuke, encourage, praise. Encouragement and praise must always outweigh rebukes although the ability to rebuke and correct are also critical skills.
  4. Criticizing team members in front of other people. That speaks for itself. Surely you would not do that. Would you?
  5. Failure to ask team members their opinions. Leaders continually make decisions. Even the smartest and most educated leaders cannot match the combined intellect of the team. Getting their input not only helps the leader to make wiser decisions, but also makes team members feel more valued and content in their work.
  6. Failure to inform team members of their progress. Followers value the perspective of the leader. When respect and trust are present, praise is inspirational and critique is motivational.
  7. No one likes to feel left out of the loop or inferior to other team members. If they ever feel that way, it should not be because the leader does not make everyone feel personally valued.

Great insight to help you to maximize your leadership!

Adapted from chapter seven of Developing The Leader Within You by John Maxwell. The 
term “team members” was substituted for the term “employees” in points four, five, 
and six.