8 Qualities of a Bad Leader & How to Become a Better One

Resources > 8 Qualities of a Bad Leader & How to Become a Better One

8 Qualities of a Bad Leader & How to Become a Better One

Posted on June 12, 2018 by Ethan Chen

Perhaps you are on the lookout to promote an employee for a leadership position and you need to weed out potential candidates who don’t have what it takes to be an effective leader.

Alternatively, you want to become a better leader who can inspire others and get the best from people, it can be as helpful to understand the qualities of a bad leader as it is to know what leadership qualities make a good leader.

Either way, these eight qualities of bad leaders and some suggestions on how to become a better leader will prove useful to you.

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1. Lack of Flexibility

A poor leader invariably adheres to one style of leadership without considering the context of particular situations. Long gone are the days in which you could adopt a particular leadership style and use it when dealing with every employee who reports to you.

Good leaders are flexible in how they approach their work, and they always bear in mind that different employees are motivated by different leadership styles.

2. Too Self-centered

One of the cornerstone qualities of a bad leader is someone who has a self-centered attitude to leading. It’s not possible to inspire others if you always take the credit when things go well.

In a similar vein, being unwilling to shoulder a fair portion of the responsibility when things go wrong is a bad way to motivate people to work for you. Give credit where it’s due and propose effective solutions when things go wrong.


3. Unable to Empathize

There are few worse qualities of a bad leader than a person who shows a complete lack of understanding about the challenges and problems faced by his or her team. The ability to empathize with others and see things from their perspective goes a long way towards marking yourself as a leader who cares.

When employees feel valued and understood by their leaders, they want to work hard for them. The worst thing you can do is alienate people by not displaying empathy and humility when the situation calls for it.

4. Not Forward-Thinking

A good leader is somebody who never settles for the status quo, while a bad leader settles into a comfort zone and never wants to leave it. You can see some great examples of this trait on display in team sports. The coaches and managers who last the longest in their jobs and bring the most success to their teams always look to the future. The coaches who are content with their teams’ positions and never look to improve upon them tend to stagnate.

The best leaders always keep one eye on the future, and they constantly brainstorm fresh, innovative ideas that lead to business growth.


5. Lack of Enthusiasm

Not every leader needs to be a Pollyanna, but showing enthusiasm for your role as a leader is non-negotiable. The attitude shown by employees tends to mirror that of their leader, who is always looked upon as a source of inspiration and motivation.

Poor leaders convey a lack of energy and passion for their role, which filters down to employees. The end result is a pessimistic company culture in which people set low targets for themselves and aim to only achieve the bare minimum. People become more ambitious and open when they see the passion and dedication of a good leader.

6. Doesn’t Show Trust

Trust is an integral part of effective team communication and good morale. Trust needs to work both ways; a leader who watches his employees like a hawk and who doesn’t allow input into decisions is a negative leader.

On the flip side, a good leader knows that he must show trust in those who report to him: trust in their creativity to come up with smart business decisions, and trust in their ability to execute tasks according to his plans.

7. No Integrity

According to The Center For Creative Leadership, integrity is one of the four character strengths leaders need. Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. Bad leaders display a lack of integrity, and their actions are often incongruent with their words.

An oft-quoted saying is that the true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching. Good leaders show consistency in both their words and actions.

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8. Poor Communicator

The ability to effectively communicate with others is an imperative leadership trait. If a leader cannot communicate her ideas and plans to employees in a clear and concise way, she is destined to fail in that role.

Leadership is about direction, guidance, and support — all of these things require the ability to communicate well as a prerequisite. An example of poor communication includes not providing feedback to employees and being vague with any feedback that is provided. Bad leaders tell people that something is wrong without providing specific information or pointers, which just leaves them confused and wastes time.

Becoming A Better Leader

Doing your best to display the opposite qualities to those listed is a good starting point to improve as a leader. However, there are several other steps you can take to improve as a leader, such as:

  • Attend leadership conferences. Conferences provide an excellent opportunity to get ideas and inspiration from true thought leaders in your industry. In addition, you can mingle with other professionals and expand your network.
  • Leverage technology. A team communication and scheduling app such as Crew can remove many of the barriers to effective communication within diverse teams and make you a better leader. With Crew, you can make sure everyone within the organization is on the same page. The app lets team members chat, manage tasks, see schedules, trade shifts, and read company announcements right on their phones.


Familiarize yourself with these qualities of a bad leader and you will know what it takes to become an effective leader.

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