I have a 15 year-old pet peeve.  I hate when leaders use voicemail messages to promote themselves.  This pet peeve should be older.  Unfortunately it is a habit I had to break myself before it became a pet peeve.

At some point I realized I was sending messages to my team that included information that did nothing for them.  They would often start:

“It’s 6:00 AM and I am on my way to the airport…”  or

“It’s 7:30 PM and I am 30 minutes from home…”


Why would I say that in my message?

Because it made ME feel good about ME!  The meat of my message was intended to be useful to those I was leading.  It is really too bad I had to add extra verbiage for my own benefit.

I am not going to attempt to speak for everyone who sends these messages.  I will speak based on what I saw in my heart.  Unfortunately if there are good reasons for adding these useless nuggets to a voicemail, I doubt my team or your team realizes it.

The biggest reason was my insecurity as a leader.  I wanted my team to know I was working hard.  It made me feel good that they knew I was up early or getting home late.

I could rationalize it away.  I could make myself believe that letting people know what time I left the house or what time I was getting home was setting an example for them.  But, as I matured as a leader, I realized guilt is a lousy leadership tactic.

I also realized that leaders who set the example do not need to pound their chest and say, “Look at me!  I am setting the example over here!”

Besides what time I leave the house or get home from work does not predict how productive I am.  Busy and productive are not the same thing. 

Tangent Pet Peeve

A related pet peeve may be emails that come from bosses in the middle of the night.  I sent them for the same reasons I sent those voicemails.  They were self serving.

If I chose to work in the middle of the night, that is my decision.  I was the one managing my home life.  Sometimes I couldn’t sleep.  Therefore, I worked.

However, I set an unofficial expectation for my team when I did that.  My people would see those emails at strange times and think that was what I wanted from them.

Or worse.  They thought that is what a leader had to do to stay ahead in the company.  As a result, many high potential people chose not to post for leadership positions due to the impact they thought it would have on their home lives.

To rectify this, I set my computer to post the emails after 7:30 AM.  I may have typed it at midnight.  But, I lost nothing by setting it to post in the morning.   No one would see it until then anyway.  I got my work done and my message out without placing unintended expectations on my team.

The Bottom Line:

Who benefits from my messages?  If the message I am about to send helps me look good, then I should rethink the message.  My goal with a voicemail message or an email message is to be sure it is informative and without a lot of extras.

My people get enough superfluous information throughout the day without me adding to it.

What do I want from a boss?

Give me a productive boss with a quality home life versus a busy, time-waster who isn’t leading at home!  I don’t need to be convinced of my boss’s hard work or hear them convince themselves they are working hard.

If I promote myself or use guilt to get others to work harder, I need to look in the mirror and reevaluate myself as a leader. 


What leadership pet peeves do you have?