18 Common Traits of a Bad Leader

It’s important to acknowledge that not all leaders are effective. Poor leadership can have consequences for the morale, productivity, and overall achievements of a team. Here are 18 traits often observed in leaders who struggle to make a positive impact.

They lack vision

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Often, bad leaders don’t have an idea or a vision for the team’s or department’s long-term vision. They don’t have an end goal or purpose for projects or the team’s overall progress, and they don’t encourage guidance either.

Bad at communicating

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Having effective communication skills, especially as a leader, is a fundamental trait. Good leaders communicate with their team clearly and precisely, while bad leaders withhold information and proper feedback from their team, which leads to confusion and trust issues within the dynamic. As mentioned in this Simpplr article, poor communication can lead to misunderstandings, conflict, and added stress.

They talk, but they don’t listen

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Talking is, of course, a well-needed trait of a leader; however, one who only talks but doesn’t listen tends to come across as a neglectful leader. When this happens, teams feel ignored or undervalued, and often good ideas are pushed to the back burner.

They are indecisive

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When bad leaders can’t make solid decisions, it could have implications for the overall progress of the work. Decisiveness is essential in leadership, and when bad leaders can’t make the right decisions, they often miss valuable opportunities, which causes a sense of uncertainty in team dynamics.

Unnecessary micromanagement

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Organizational leaders often tend to micromanage their team members. This is often a characteristic of a lack of trust. Team members are forced to rely on the manager and not be independent. This LinkedIn article discusses how this negative trait can impact people psychologically.

Neglecting the growth of a team

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Good leaders often encourage their team members to further develop their skills by providing the right resources or helping them find the right resources. Bad leaders neglect their team’s development, which leads to a stagnant environment and limits valuable opportunities for everyone.

Having favorites

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Often, in the work environment, leaders consciously or subconsciously prefer one team member over the other. They display favoritism for one person over others, and this can cause a division between employees.

Not leading by example

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Ever heard of the phrase ‘practice what you preach?’ Bad leaders don’t follow this rule, as they don’t personify their behaviors or values but expect others to do it. If they don’t show good behavior to their team members, it affects their credibility negatively.

Not being flexible

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Bad leaders often can’t change or be flexible. This may be because they aren’t adaptable, which hampers innovation and progress within their team. A study done on the effects of team flexibility shows how it impacts both the ‘behavioral and cognitive structure of the team.’

They don’t have empathy

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Empathy, which is an essential characteristic in both personal and professional life, is something that bad leaders fail to acknowledge. This is something that helps to connect people on different levels, and when there is a lack of empathy in leaders, it results in low morale and a lack of trust between members.

Being too authoritarian

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Another attribute of a bad leader is that they are too demanding and throw their authority around. Some people think that if they do this, their team will respect them more; however, it has the opposite effect and fosters fear instead. Using excessive force is never the answer for a good leader.

They are unpredictable

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Being unpredictable and inconsistent often leads to others being demoralized in any environment. Bad leaders who are unpredictable in their expectations and actions create an environment of instability for everyone else.

Sidestepping accountability

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Taking responsibility and owning up to things should be at the forefront of any good leader’s character. However, bad leaders often avoid or sidestep accountability, especially when things go wrong. This can greatly undermine their credibility in the eyes of others.

Setting expectations

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Bad leaders can’t often see things in the long term; instead of motivating their team, they often establish unrealistic expectations to demotivate and overwhelm them. Things such as setting impractical targets and overloading them with too much work lead them to burn out.

Discounting team dynamics

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Team dynamics are critical to the overall success of an organization. However, when you have a bad leader who ignores the importance of team dynamics, it can cause people to be unproductive. This ActiveCollab article talks about how good team dynamics help build unity and trust.

Inadequate conflict resolution skills

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A bad leader’s inability to effectively address conflicts can contribute to a toxic work environment. They have poor communication, which leads to conflicts and miscommunication.

Failure to give recognition

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Not having the ability to see their teams’ achievements or progress and reward them is another trait of a bad leader. This leads to the demoralization of employees. Good leaders often recognize their teams’ efforts.

Criticizing excessively

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Good leaders often encourage and push their team members to excel in all aspects of their lives. When their work is sub-par they help them recognize this and work toward personal progress and confidence. Bad leaders, however, criticize their employees without helping them find solutions and demoralize them.

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