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Bad Leadership Qualities: 21 Traits & Characteristics

Poor leadership qualities

Leaders play a pivotal role in shaping our professional lives and personal growth. While they are responsible for delegating tasks and facilitating development within an organization, truly effective leaders go beyond these basic functions. They inspire and empower their teams to unlock their full potential by leveraging individual strengths. The HIGH5 strengths assessment provides a comprehensive understanding of each team member’s unique talents and abilities, enabling leaders to create an environment where everyone can thrive and contribute to the collective success.

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. 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.

What is Bad Leadership?

Leadership is 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.

In any work environment, leaders need special qualities to manage and interact with their employees or team members.

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 leadership 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.

15 Characteristics and Warning Signs of a Bad Leadership

Avoids conflicts

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

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 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. Aside 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

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.

Lack of Work Ethic

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

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

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.

Lack of empathy

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.


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

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

The lack of these qualities in a leader is undoubtedly a leadership weakness. 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. Aside from the inability to follow the objectives of an established plan.

Lack of Respect

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

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

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

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.


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.

Other bad qualities are:

  • No transparency
  • Inconsistency
  • Know-it-all attitude
  • Lack of teamwork
  • Poor time management
  • Fails to set clear expectations

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 doubts or inconveniences. Also, allow your leader to be clear with you. When assigning new tasks and delegating new functions, 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.

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.

Pro Tip From HIGH5

Instead of focusing solely on your leader’s weaknesses, take a strengths-based approach by identifying and leveraging your own strengths. The HIGH5 assessment can provide valuable insights into your natural abilities, helping you cultivate resilience, maintain a positive mindset, and continue contributing to the team’s success despite the leadership challenges.

Effects of a Poor and Bad Leadership

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

Poor leadership can have devastating effects on a team’s morale and productivity. When individuals feel undervalued, ignored, and unmotivated, they are unlikely to put forth their best efforts. This is where the HIGH5 strengths assessment can be invaluable. By identifying and leveraging each team member’s unique strengths, leaders can create an environment where everyone feels valued and motivated to contribute. When individuals are empowered to leverage their natural talents, they are more likely to be engaged, productive, and committed to achieving collective goals.

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.

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.

Pro Tip From HIGH5

Leverage the insights from the HIGH5 strengths assessment to foster an environment of appreciation and recognition. Celebrate team members’ unique contributions and provide opportunities for them to utilize their strengths in meaningful ways. This will not only boost morale and engagement but also unlock greater levels of productivity and success.

Poor Leadership FAQ

How do you identify a bad leader?

You can typically identify a poor leader by looking at their team and the results they produce.

If the leader’s team is uninspired, bored, constantly fighting, unproductive, uncommitted, not communicating, and so on, the leader’s weaknesses are allowing these negative aspects of the team environment to continue.

Plus, if the leader’s team produces very few sales, or in general does not meet their goals, the leader is likely incompetent.

What are the qualities of bad leadership?

Bad leaders produce bad teams. They do not offer the support and direction that good leaders offer their teams.

Some qualities that define bad leadership include ineffective communication (or no communication at all), lack of care, lack of transparency, lack of trust, enlarged ego, poor delegation skills, unwillingness to listen to employees, lacking passion and/or charisma, and so on.


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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