I often hear about this or that entertainer who has suddenly begun to wonder whether what they do is any good and then drops out and we never hear from them again, or it’s a very long time before they resurface. This often happens with musicians who find that they weren’t prepared for either the fame or the criticism. The self doubt creeps in, and they really don’t know how to deal with it. Kurt Cobain was a different example of this one; people kept telling him he was good, but he couldn’t see it, and we all know what happened there.

Barry Manilow dealt with the same thing for years. I am a major Barry Manilow fan, and I attribute my starting to play piano again when I was a teen to hearing Mandy for the first time, a real piano song on the radio. This guy had big hits for almost 10 years, well crafted songs, mostly love songs that critics loved to hate but people loved to listen and sing to.

No matter who had something bad to say, there wasn’t anyone, not even the critics, who didn’t know most of the lyrics to at least one song. Yet, in every interview back then, he would always say he had no idea why people liked his music and how long his run would last, but that he knew it would come to an end one day.

Here’s the thing. If famous people sometimes can’t deal with the harsh criticism of their peers, then what makes some managers believe that they can say whatever they want to people who report to them and then expect that those employees will turn into great workers? Doesn’t it make sense that an employee would be on pins and needles, worried about making another mistake that would bring rebuke upon them again?

Once an employee has self doubt, your business is in trouble. Sure, you as the leader could terminate that person, but if it’s your behavior that caused this person to lose their confidence you’re only going to keep doing that to employee after employee and wondering what’s wrong with people without realizing that it’s your behavior that needs to change.

Leaders need to always be cognizant of not only their behavior, but their words and how they use them when talking to employees. Not all employees are mentally fragile, but it doesn’t take many employees not working at their peak to destroy a business. Unless you like working on your own, you need to be aware that you need to treat people with some kind of respect, like an adult. If you have employees that you see as acting childish, you need to make sure you’re not the one making them act that way.