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Poor and Bad Leadership Qualities – 15 Characteristics & Warning Signs and How To Spot Them

Leaders are people who have a great influence on our lives. They are the ones in charge of delegating functions at work and helping you to grow and develop properly within it.

Unfortunately, not everyone has had the pleasure of being led by good leaders. Although it may seem absurd, there are leaders with poor leadership qualities that can affect all subordinates and even the company or project they lead.

Poor leadership impacts a company’s ability to retain employees. It affects the morale, motivation, and productivity of any work team.

Knowing the characteristics of a bad leader will help you be resilient to problems at work. Or conversely, if you are a bad leader, you can improve and strengthen your leadership skills through strengths-based leadership.

Next, we’ll talk about what bad leadership is and why we all hate it. We will also mention a list of leadership qualities that characterize a bad leader and how to deal with them from our strengths perspective.

Poor leadership qualities

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What is Bad Leadership – Let’s Define It

In any work environment, leaders need special qualities to manage and interact with their employees or team members. First, let’s define leadership.

Leadership is nothing more than a set of managerial skills that a person develops to generate an impact on the way a workgroup acts, promoting enthusiasm towards the achievement of its objectives.

There are many leadership styles, but we will talk about the three defined by psychologist Kurt Lewin. These are authoritarian leadership, participative leadership, and Laissez-Faire leadership.

Although each style has its strengths, it also has its leadership weaknesses. Although the authoritarian style is more prone to bad leadership, the others can also become so.

Of course, this will depend on the characteristics of each leader. The following video explains it in a better way.

Having defined it only remains to think about what bad leadership really is.

Bad leadership is when the one (the leader) instead of motivating and driving the workgroup, harms it morally, sets goals that benefit only him, demotivates it, and affects its performance when it comes to achieving a strategic goal.

Bad leadership characteristics are often overlooked by subordinates. This is due to the authoritarian position in which the bad leader is positioned.

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15 Characteristics and Warning Signs of a Bad Leadership

Avoids conflicts

“Leaders do not avoid, repress, or deny conflict, but rather see it as an opportunity.” –Warren Bennis

Leadership is also fundamental when it comes to resolving conflicts. A bad leadership characteristic is avoiding the responsibility to solve problems.

A bad leader does not offer answers with effective solutions. This in turn causes misunderstandings.

As a result, the problems, far from being solved, are aggravated. Besides ending up directly affecting the project and the organization he leads.

No Self-Development and Self-Growth

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” –Jane Goodall

Life is a process of personal growth, and this concept should be more than clear to leaders. Another leadership weakness is not caring about personal growth.

Let’s remember that leaders motivate, through their self-development, other potential leaders. A bad leader will never be able to motivate his team to improve if he disregards their opportunities to grow and improve himself.

Selfish and Egoistic

“A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit.” –John Maxwell

A leader is useless without his team. Without it, he would not be able to reach the objectives and goals of the projects and the company he represents.

One of the most irritating bad leadership characteristics is to be selfish and egoistic. Bad leaders like to blame others when things go wrong. Asides from taking credit when things go right.

This also encourages them to make decisions thinking only of themselves. Without considering the rest of the team.

Not accountable

“Leaders inspire accountability through their ability to accept responsibility before they place blame.” –Courtney Lynch

The leader must take responsibility for his actions as well as for the actions and performance of his team. Another leadership weakness is not being accountable for decision-making.

A bad leader does not hold himself accountable for his managerial actions as he should. Often try to blame others for any inconvenience resulting from his bad leadership. This attitude has a major negative impact on the company’s culture.

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Lack of Work Ethic

“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” –Lao Tzu

A successful leader is an example to others because of his passion, work ethic, and effort. These characteristics make people look up to him with admiration. This gives them the motivation they need to achieve their own goals.

Another outstanding bad leadership characteristic is acting unethically. A bad leader produces negative results from his lack of ethics. And this makes him/her unable to lead and inspire others.

Bad listener

“The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people.” –Woodrow Wilson

Communication is the fundamental basis of any partnership. Listening to the views and suggestions of employees will enable a leader to make better decisions about the team, the project under development, and the organization.

Not listening is one of the leadership weaknesses that most affects a team. Bad leaders do not listen to others, at least not as often as they should.

All leadership management should include this, but these kinds of leaders do not give importance to it and at the same time, they ignore what the team has to say.

Blaming others

Blaming others

“Difficulties mastered are opportunities won.” –Winston Churchill

Each leader must take command of the group, proposing solutions to problems and helping others to improve their work. Blaming others is a bad leadership characteristic that demonstrates the incapability to manage a work team.

A bad leader does this instead of showing support, helping to improve, and proposing useful solutions. No matter what the final result of the project is, he will only focus on the mistakes that were committed in the process. This denotes a lack of commitment to leadership.

No empathy

“To manage yourself, use your head, to manage others, use your heart.′′ –Eleanor Roosevelt

Behind every member of staff, there is a human being who feels and thinks for himself. A true leader understands through empathy. This is the only way to help each member of the team to reach higher levels of success.

Lack of empathy is not only a leadership weakness, it is a human weakness too. The bad leader does not put himself in his subordinates’ shoes. Judges their mistakes and does not care to understand or listen to them.

Lack of empathy also prevents the leader from providing real solutions to the problems of low productivity and demotivation.

Micromanager

“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” –George S. Patton

Micromanagement is the attempt to supervise and control every aspect of the company, work team, and even employees. Another bad leadership characteristic is to distrust the team’s ability to do a good job.

A leader who does not trust his team does not trust his leadership skills either. They want everything to be done their way. Under these criteria, they take away responsibilities and autonomy from their subordinates.

This limits them, preventing them from improving their performance and growing on their own.

Lack of Vision and Focus

“You can only move forward if you look far ahead. There’s only room for progress when you think big.” –José Ortega y Gasset

Success involves changing, improving, and stepping out of your comfort zone at times. A leader can lead his team towards a concrete future goal through projection. This requires focus and vision.

The lack of these qualities in a leader is undoubtedly leadership weaknesses. They are conformists and do not look beyond the horizon. This causes them not to make a long-term plan that allows everyone to improve.

Lack of focus also creates confusion and demonstrates poor leadership. Asides from the inability to follow the objectives of an established plan.

Lack of Respect

“Leadership calls for respect. Followers will not respect a leader who does not grade high on all of the factors of a Pleasing Personality.” –Napoleon Hill

Overstepping members’ limits is the worst leadership characteristic. A bad leader does not hesitate to do so when he disrespects his team members.

Lack of humility and self-awareness are traits of someone who will lose his temper when something goes wrong. Making them aggressive and arrogant.

There is no more obvious characteristic of bad leadership than this. Respect is the key to everything.

Behind a good work team, there is a willingness to listen and take into account the opinions of each member with mutual respect.

Lack of Self-Awareness

Lack of self-awarness

“…you have to look at who you are, trying to know yourself, which is the most difficult knowledge you can imagine.” –Miguel de Cervantes

Another leadership weakness is the lack of self-awareness. Bad leaders tend to behave inappropriately, breaking with cultural norms and work ethics.

A leader is an example to follow and therefore must have exemplary behavior. They are aware of the impact and consequences of their actions on the team and the company.

This characteristic also does not allow bad leaders to identify the flaws in their management. Nor correct them to improve the team’s performance.

Lack of Adaptability and Flexibility

“Great leaders find ways to connect with their people and help them reach their full potential.′′ –Steven J. Stowell

Leading people implies having an open mind to listen, observe and consider different points of view, perspectives, and ways of being. Everyone is valuable and has something different to contribute to the team.

Another bad leadership characteristic is being inflexible with team members. A bad leader is inflexible and does not adapt to a plan or mode of collective collaboration. You must do what he says or else you are out.

Success is achieved by orienting the strengths and qualities of all members towards one target. As well as solving problems and correcting mistakes from an overall perspective.

Always taking into account and integrating all team members.

Poor Communication Skills

Poor Communication Skills

“The art of communication is the language of leadership.” –James Humes

Communicating is not only about conveying our points of view. It is also about dialogue and listening to what others have to say. Not only during difficult circumstances but also when communicating policies, new corporate procedures, or developing a new work strategy.

Poor communication is one of the worst traits of a bad leader. Many do not express themselves clearly, do so inappropriately, and some do not even communicate at all. It does not matter how good or experienced a leader is.

A leader unable to communicate with his team will not be able to lead, motivate or enable team members and projects to succeed.

Focuses on features rather than performance (Ineffective)

“Leadership is the ability to get extraordinary achievement from ordinary people.” –Brian Tracy

A leader must recognize priorities and balance the set of qualities that will drive the team to success. Ineffective leaders focus more on the features of a project, service, or strategy than on its effectiveness and performance.

Being ineffective and unobjective is another leadership weakness that demonstrates imminently that you are dealing with a bad leader. This demonstrates their incompetence and does not make them a good role model for the members they lead.

They tend to believe that power is everything. When what really matters is the ability to guide others to perform at their best.

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How To Deal with Bad Leadership?

Many times resigning is not the best option for us. Although it is always better to look for a solution to everything from a strengths perspective. Here are some tips you can follow to deal with a bad leader.

Try not to focus on the leader

Yes, it sounds simpler than it really is. But the best thing to do is to put all your dedication and effort into what you have to do and show yourself and your colleagues how good you are.

Leaders always form leaders by influencing their lives. If you are facing bad leadership, be the difference through resilience and your personal strengths. Do not be influenced by the attitudes of a bad leader.

Set healthy limits

If their way of speaking is not the most respectful, you must let them know and set healthy limits. Of course, based on respect and tolerance. Do not react impulsively.

Take a strengths perspective and be the one to show maturity in the situation.

Do not sabotage

This will never be the solution. The right way to deal with bad leadership is to show the other leaders and your co-workers that you are a hard-working and responsible person.

As a valuable and fundamental piece of the team, your behavior will help make the situation more bearable for others.

This also affects the quality of your work. So unless you have another job, keep doing your best in this one.

Clarify any doubts

Explain yourself better if you have any doubt or inconvenience. Also, allow your leader to be clear with you. When assigning new tasks and delegating new functions is when most problems arise.

If your leader has poor communication skills, take control and have a dialogue with him.

Take care of yourself

Dealing with bad leadership can cause stress and fatigue. Do not let this situation consume you. Take control of your physical and mental health by taking care of yourself.

Exercise whenever you can, eat right, get enough sleep, and vent to someone you trust, by talking about the situation.

“Great leaders are not defined by the absence of weakness, but rather by the presence of clear strengths.” ―John Peter Zenger

Your performance is part of your personal growth. We know that dealing with leadership weaknesses is overwhelming.

We all have weaknesses, but what makes us great is focusing on our strengths and overcoming adversity. This is what also makes you a true leader.

Your performance is part of your personal growth. We know that dealing with leadership weaknesses is overwhelming. We all have weaknesses, but what makes us great is focusing on our strengths and overcoming adversity. This is what also makes you a true leader.

What are your strengths? Take the test to find out and unlock your potential

Effects of a Poor & Bad Leadership

Getting a leader is hard, and getting rid of a bad one is even more harder.

Even if the leadership is bad, supplanting leaders is extremely difficult and has a big impact on the team. The absence of leadership can cause some uncertainty and disorientation of the team. Especially about their goals and objectives.

Bad leaders impact team performance

Bad leaders impact team performance

“The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say ‘I’. They don’t think ‘I’. They think ‘we’; they think ‘team’.” –Tom Peters

Poor leadership causes devastating effects on the team. Feeling undervalued, ignored, and unmotivated, they will not put forth the same effort as someone who knows that their work and performance are valued.

Add to this the fact that disgruntled subordinates are much more likely to engage in inappropriate behavior at work.

The development of each team member suffers from poor leadership

A true leader is a teacher who creates more leaders through motivation. A bad leader presumes the recognition of others as his own. Aside from blaming his team rather than himself when something goes wrong.

If someone works in a place where they are not motivated to develop their skills and their effort are undervalued, they will quickly stagnate.

This is important because, by comparing this situation to one in which strengths-based leadership is employed, the team will be encouraged to explore their personal strengths.

Through positive reinforcement, they would work on their weaknesses. Setting more challenging goals that would allow them to grow and succeed.

A bad leader does not encourage their efforts. Nor does it provide them with the right tools they need to grow up.

The working environment becomes chaotic and unpleasant.

The working environment becomes chaotic and unpleasant

“If a leader does not convey passion and intensity, then there will be no passion and intensity within the organization and they will begin to fall and become depressed.” –Colin Powell

Naturally, unhappy and dissatisfied employees can make others feel the same way. Even if someone maintains a positive attitude, it is difficult to maintain it in an environment that is surrounded by negativism.

If the leader does not maintain an environment where motivation, camaraderie, order, and assertiveness reign, you can be sure that you are facing a case of bad leadership.

Losses within the work environment increase

Through negative reinforcement, poor leadership will inevitably cause motivation and production quality to decrease. Not only that, it will cause several team members to give up and quit too.

They will go in search of an enriching opportunity that will allow them to grow. The results are a loss of customers and a breakdown in the work environment.

As more people express an interest in leaving, others may think the ship is sinking. So they will jump overboard too.

For all of the above reasons, it is important to have good and committed leaders who are involved with the growth of their team and the organization they represent.

Frequently Asked Questions About Poor Leadership Qualities

What are some examples of leadership weaknesses?

  1. Withdrawing from the work team. 
  2. Poor (or non-existent) communication with team members
  3. Demanding excessive contact with team members
  4. Being overly critical and lacking empathy when making comments. 
  5. Acting unethically and without values. 
  6. Not being clear on expectations, goals, and objectives. 
  7. Micromanaging team members by incapacitating them in their activities. 
  8. Not providing effective feedback to improve team performance.

Conclusion

It is difficult to deal with bad leadership. It is something that affects the company, the team, and even the leader himself. But despite the consequences it may cause, we can overcome these adversities.

We are all leaders the moment we decide to behave in an exemplary manner. Now that you know the poor leadership qualities of a bad leader, take the initiative to transform your environment by relying on your strengths.

Only then will you be able to deal with these leadership weaknesses successfully.

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