How to Tell if Your Organization is Suffering from Bad Management

“The strength of the team is each individual member; the strength of each member is the team.”
—Phil Jackson

Phil Jackson and Bobby Knight are both legendary basketball coaches who racked up similar winning percentages over their careers. But their approaches to coaching and winning were vastly different.

Phil Jackson was known for his ability to create harmony and teamwork among the top-level players on his teams. Bobby Knight, on the other hand, was known for heavy-handed coaching and bad behavior, which ultimately led to his dismissal from Indiana University.

Because his teams had such an impressive winning percentage, Knight got away with acting out for some time. But in the end, his bad management style hurt his team and his reputation.

I’ve seen similar scenarios play out in the business world, and the results are the same every time. Bad behavior temporarily isolates managers from scrutiny, judgment, and receiving feedback, but it will never completely insulate them from the consequences.


Because they run things their way and rarely consider critical feedback, isolated managers rest easy in the notion that they are safe from penalties. What they don’t realize is that by being heavy-handed, accusatory, arrogant, or defensive, they close off the flow of ideas and improvements that would give them a competitive advantage.

People instinctively limit their exposure to negative or destructive energy, which means the isolated manager may discover that their team members and co-workers don’t approach them with insights and observations regarding obstacles, inefficiencies, and opportunities. Unfortunately, and often, the isolated manager can take this lack of employee communication to mean that they’re doing a great job and everything is smooth sailing; in reality, it’s just the calm before the storm.


The isolated manager creates an unhealthy culture for their team and organization. No one feels safe approaching them with issues or opportunities for improvement. Critical dialogue is minimal or doesn’t exist, employee engagement suffers, and the A and B players start to look elsewhere for employment opportunities.

When an isolated manager’s ego and defensiveness takes over, and they refuse to take feedback regarding the culture they’ve created, they will eventually face the consequences. And when performance suffers long enough, the isolated manager then discovers that they aren’t insulated from the fallout of their attitude, actions and, ultimately, performance. The organization will coach them up or out.


Is your company’s future being held hostage by a manager isolating themselves because of behavior not aligned with company culture? There are proven techniques for turning bad management around. The key ingredients are courageous, respectful, and compassionate communication anchored in data and facts, both quantitative and qualitative.

  1. Evaluate your management team to determine if any managers are displaying bad behaviors that could isolate them from their team.
  2. Determine if this manager will acknowledge this behavior. Are they aware that their co-workers or employee teams hesitate or avoid interaction with them? Do they wonder why? Use performance or employee satisfaction insights to reveal the situation to them.
  3. Are they coachable and willing to engage in a critical dialogue about changing their situation? Help them connect the dots between how they’re handling situations today and what the ultimate consequences will be without an improvement.
  4. Help them develop a growth plan that will lead them to evolve into a more open, collaborative team-builder. If you are faced with a difficult personality or need a fresh approach for helping an isolated manager, give me a call to get things moving in the right direction quickly.

Hiring and retaining more Phil Jacksons, as opposed to Bobby Knights, will ensure that you continue to attract and retain A and B players to your team. When employees feel safe, valued, and encouraged to share and collaborate as a team, they create true competitive advantage—and everybody wins.

If hearing the particulars of this story would help you or your partners, send me a note or give me a call: and (414) 315-0523. You can also get on my calendar directly for a free discovery call here:

My background

My career path started out at IBM before moving on to start, build and eventually sell two technology service companies. From there, I’ve been a global channel development partner, and personal/corporate achievement coach helping leaders and teams break through to the next level. 

Break Through

If you or your team needs help breaking through to the next level of performance, or if you have a friend who’d appreciate having access to me as their personal and/or corporate achievement coach, please reach out for a free discovery call or email me at

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Phil Mydlach

Phil Mydlach is a high-performance executive coach who shows people and companies how to break through to their next level of ability, growth, and performance. He partners with them as they lean into their edge to confront the fears that are holding them back.

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