As a leader, particularly in times of stress, it can be easy to lean into a more directive or authoritative style of leadership. And, in those circumstances, it may be perfectly appropriate to leverage those styles. There is, though, an impact if this becomes the default.

What are some of the signs that you might be stifling your employees?

  1. Employees look to you to tell them what to do.
  2. In meetings, employees wait for you to speak. They do not offer ideas, even when asked.
  3. Employees do not express concerns or offer a perspective that differs from yours.
  4. Employees recognize who your favorite or “go to” is on the team and stop trying to make that list.
  5. When you delegate, you explain exactly what you want done and how you want it done.


If you think you may be stifling your employees, take some time to observe your interactions. If you find that you are, in fact, stifling then, don’t lose hope. You can turn the situation around.

It takes time, patience, persistence, and dialogue. Be transparent with your team that this is a behavior you are actively trying to address. Engage them in the process. This means making it okay for them to raise it with you when you are behaving in a way that stifles them.

These are just 5 examples. I’d welcome you adding to the list with others that you have experienced or that you may have caught yourself doing.