Bad Leader: 10 Poor Leadership Qualities and Characteristics

The world is filled with more poor leaders than strong ones. In a business environment, it’s oftentimes said when someone quits their job that they’re not quitting the job, they’re quitting their boss. That certainly rings true, in most cases. A bad boss can make the greatest job in the world absolutely void of joy and alternatively, a great boss can make a not-so-great job feel pretty welcoming.

Here are some of the poor leadership qualities that define a terrible boss or a bad leader:

1. Blame

Leaders who blame instead of produce solutions and support are the worst people to lead a team. Everyone makes mistakes. Bad leaders focus on the damage and shaming. Good leaders immediately jump to act and are committed to minimizing damage by introducing solutions. A culture of blame does not help anyone. If a leader wants a team member to learn from their mistake, show them support and a solution.

2. No empathy

Team members want to be under a leader they feel who understands them and who listen to them. A leader has got to be present for their employees and supportive. If an employee makes a mistake, a leader should have the ability to see what happened from the employee’s perspective. A bad leader rushes to judgment and does not care about the human being behind the team member, which oftentimes results in high turnover and low productivity.

3. Selfishness

Bad leaders can sometimes exploit their team to facilitate their own advancement or achievement. Instead of building the team underneath them, a bad leader’s politicking towards a new position or goal. Comparatively, a good leader will seek to strengthen the team, making individual team members look good, and giving those around them what they need to perform to the best of their abilities. If all a boss cares about are themselves, they’re commonly followed by team members leaving left and right.

4. Failing to give credit

A leader’s successful because of the people they’ve surrounded themselves with and the team beneath them. A bad leader is always going to take credit for the success and seek to exploit labor to make themselves look great. They don’t care about the team, morale, or quality. A leadership approach that works is one which highlights the work team members are doing. It’s important to be rewarded with something like a ‘good job!’ and to know an employee’s on the right track.

5. Micromanaging all functions of a team

Whether a leader is overseeing a business, an organization, or a team, nothing’s wrong with a little micromanagement. If a leader’s micromanaging all aspects of their team however, it restricts those a leader’s put in supervisory roles, limits employee’s ability to deliver their best performance, and alienates employees. It does not communicate trust when a leader has to come in and micromanage in some way because they do not trust those underneath them to do it right.

6. Not treating team members as unique

Managing team members should be done on a case-by-case basis and not with a one-size-fits-all. A leader should be ready to learn how to best manage, coach, and communicate each unique individual. Bad leaders don’t want to learn, think they already know everything there is to know about managing people, and proudly assert, ‘This is my leadership style. Deal with it!’ If employees or team members are leaving left and right, that’s a sign of bad leadership.

7. Not wanting to be in the trenches with the team

A leader has got to lead by example. It’s not a leader’s job to check out and let the team do all the work. A leader’s got to be willing to get their hands dirt, roll up their sleeves, sit in with the team, help out and execute, and to take this opportunity to identify different team members’ needs, strengths, and inefficiencies.

8. Lack of focus

A poor leadership quality is when a boss does not have a clear vision on what they want to accomplish. No matter the goal, a leader should have a clear idea on where things are headed. Bad leaders are inconsistent with their goals, sometimes changing strategies or priorities within a week. For as intelligent, creative, or experienced a leader may be, if there’s no focus, that’s bad news.

9. Lack of respect

A leader should respect those on their team and be able to listen as well as learn from them constantly. Mutual respect is a huge element of a successful team performance. If you don’t respect your team, your team’s not going to respect you. Employees want to feel valued and like their opinions matter, and they should.

10. No self-awareness

A leader must be aware of the consequences and repercussions to their actions, in a team or corporate environment. There is an expected culture, an expected work ethic, expected behaviour, and expected etiquette to maintain. If a leader falls outside of that, it can be corrosive to the dynamics of communication. A lack of self-awareness also may prevent a leader from being able to see when there are weaknesses in their team performance model.

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