🔥 Recently Launched : AON, SHRM and Vantage Circle Partnered Annual Rewards and Recognition Report 2024-25

Worried About Bad Leadership? 10 Warning Signs Of Bad Leaders

8 min read   |  
Last Updated on

Bad leadership can destroy good staff of the company causing the best employees to flee. It can also lead to poor motivation and degrade productivity among the remaining employees of the organization.

A bad system can destroy good people.- Gary Mottershead

Leadership has the power to change, innovate, and build the road to success. But it is not an easy game. It is a skill that many have to develop over time by redefining themselves and implementing the right strategies.

Many leaders are not born gifted with the right qualities. Still, they build their skills by learning every day from their own experiences.

What is Bad Leadership?

There are many ways to look at leadership and derive ideas to give us a good perspective. A leader's sole motive is to lead, help the crowd in the picture, and work together to achieve it.

The journey from the idea to the success, there are numerous setbacks, challenges, and hardships that a good leader takes on their shoulders and provides strength and motivation to others.

Bad leaders care about who is right. Good leaders care about what is right. - Simon Sinek

Bad leadership is its opposite. Leaders who are in charge but fail to lead due to poor communication skills and leadership qualities set an example of poor leadership.

10 Warning Signs of Bad Leaders

The leadership behaviors that leaders show can be examined critically to understand their underlying incapabilities and track their record of success. A bad leader is not necessarily a wrong person, but, of course, someone who lacks self-confidence, humility, empathy, and other necessary qualities. So when do you know that a leader failed and is incompetent at their job? Let's find out.

1. Leaders Who Do Not Put Others First

Leaders who do not care or keep others' needs first are a severe warning sign of bad leadership. Leadership, in a way, is more or less a selfless deed. Remember Uncle Ben's famous quote from Spider-Man - With great power comes great responsibility?' The quote is relevant to leadership.

Leaders are in that position where they can make a difference. They are trusted and believed in for their skills. The respect and the following that they enjoy has a price, and they must take it on themselves to serve people for the greater good. When leaders focus only on their agenda or needs, it is a warning sign of bad leadership.

Good leaders are pervasive, persuasive, and persistent. Bad leadership is poisoned with pedanticism, posturing and self-importance. - Marcia Whicker

Related: Servant Leadership, its Principles, and Examples in the Workplace

2. Leaders Who Do Not Listen

Active listening is a great skill that everyone must develop for their professional and personal growth. When you pay all your attention to the speaker, you also unconsciously respect their time and energy. It is unnecessary to agree on everything the speakers say.

Still, it is crucial to listen to them without being judgemental and being open minded. Leaders who listen to their employees build a team that is loyal and understanding. Active listening helps us build perspective and let us be more compassionate towards each other.

Leaders who don't listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say. - Andy Stanley

Leaders who communicate effectively know the employees' pulse, hence support and recognize them with utmost sincerity in the workplace. Any leader who never listens to other perspectives would always fail to make and implement the right decisions.

3. Leaders Who Do Not Recognize


It is the team that ultimately wins. People in a group need a daily dose of motivation to keep going. The team looks up to its leaders since they follow them and take them as a source of inspiration.

Recognition is one of the most powerful tools leaders have at their disposal. - Steve Gutzler

To keep the team happy, a work environment must have a culture of appreciation and recognition. And it is the leader's job to take care of these needs and give regular feedback and credit to boost motivation. Ineffective leaders with poor skills do not appreciate or reward you for excellent work.

Related: The Ultimate Guide To Employee Rewards and Recognition

4. Leaders Who Do Not Practice Transparency

Every company has well-defined goals and objectives that they want to achieve. The objectives are strategically planned to execute them effectively. Leaders are the ones who make these decisions for others to follow.

While making these decisions, they must follow transparency and involve every team member to participate in it. It gives everyone a sense of equality and trust in management.

A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity. - Dalai Lama

Also, any minor/significant achievements that the company achieves must be shared with the employees to keep them motivated. If information is withheld from a business decision to implement new strategies, it spreads misinformation in the workplace. And that is not acceptable and is a bad style of leadership.

Related: Why Transparency In The Workplace Can Help Your Business Grow

5. Leaders Who Lack Self-Confidence

The employees feed on the confidence of their leaders. When the leaders are not proactive or confident in making decisions, it leaves a wrong impression. Moreover, confidence is a crucial leadership skill.

Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings. - Samuel Johnson

Confident leaders give their employees the right direction and provide them with the necessary information to help them achieve their goals. Under confident leaders stumble, and they lack the sense of belief required to lead a team.

6. Leaders Who Do Not Empower


In any organization, there are times where employees feel unmotivated and go through a tough time. It could be both personal and professional. It could also be self-doubt or lack of satisfaction from not having enough freedom at work.

Great managers understand these aspects well and always be there to empower people when needed. They provide everyone equal opportunities to thrive and make their own decisions.

When leaders fail to empower others, It is usually due to three main reasons: 1. Desire for job security, 2. Resistance to change, 3. Lack of self-worth. - John C. Maxwell

Great leaders are that way, not micro-managers. They believe in empowerment and thereby recognize future leaders. In contrast, bad leaders do not acknowledge this and do not empower their employees.

Related: Employee Empowerment: Are You Doing it Right?

7. Leaders That Have A Tendency To Micromanage


A micromanager is someone who seeks management and directs the tiniest action taken by the workers. They have an inclination to be concerned in everything done by their workers to manage the result.

However, the result is adversely affected compared to what the leader at the start supposed. Micromanagers feel happy as a result of everything being finished to their preference. On the opposite hand, this form of leadership breeds rancor among workers, as they're going to presumably feel monitored as if they were kids. They're going to feel an absence of autonomy and responsibility.

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

Results of micromanagement are supported by many studies showing that it contains a prejudiced result on workers. To combat this problem, fostering a setting contributory to learning and developing leadership skills is perfect.

It involves making a culture wherever everyone’s input is valued however additionally keeping a firm position on who has the ultimate say. This way, others will be inspired to talk up and contribute to the organization in a positive manner then lease one person micromanage all activities and choices.

8. Leaders Who Are Inflexible

Good leadership takes tons of work flexibility in responding to the dynamical circumstances of the business. It implies being fluid while approaching employees in the workplace. Good leaders understand the importance of treating workers equally. They create an endeavor to accommodate personal designs and wishes.

Lack of flexibility from a foul leader creates rigid adherence to timelines. It additionally may create a stubborn rejection of all new concepts or processes. These habits of rigidity makes it exhausting for a team or a company as a whole to attach and operate effectively.

As a leader you have to balance the dichotomy to be resolute where it matters but never inflexible and uncompromising on matters of little importance to the overall good of the team and strategic mission. - Jocko Willink

Inflexible leadership can solely lead to a broken culture, and ultimately a non-productive organization. As a good leader you must improve flexibility by listening to constructive criticism from employees and authorize routine tasks to create a positive work culture.

9. Leaders Who Lack of Authority

Leaders who lack authority are often frustrating to figure with, as they're indecisive regarding selections and provide poor feedback.

Leaders will have to give clear and decisive leadership towards a world of tolerance and respect for difference, and an uncompromising commitment to peaceful solutions of conflicts and disputes. - Nelson Mandela

In order to combat this variety of leadership, leaders ought to initially determine essential factors which can have an effect on the result of a call. They must anticipate outcomes, and reason with qualitative analysis.

  1. Leaders Who Lack Of Direction


The business world is actively dynamic, and solely those that systematically keep up with the current trends through active planning, engaging, and networking are able to succeed. When leaders don’t perceive the general direction as to where the company is heading, it leads to scarcity of faith from workers. This lack of faith puts the company’s whole purpose into question.

Good business leaders create a vision, articulate a vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion. - Jack Welch

Leadership drift or the loss of direction leads to lost deadlines, ruined efficiencies, and expensive choices. Drifted leaders typically miss necessary tactical information with reference to daily happenings, which hampers their decision-making talents.

Signs of dangerous leadership embrace coasting, apathy, resistance to feedback, and concession of principles or work ethic. To beat leadership drift or lack of direction, a correct assessment should be conducted by a trusty colleague with honest analysis of observations, feedback and direction. This assessment can permit leaders to grasp the underlying problems to value what they require to try and do.


Do share your views on bad leadership in the comment section below. We would love to have your comments and put them on the blog to make it more insightful.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.

This article is written by Braja Deepon Roy. He works as a Content Creator and Digital Marketer at Vantage Circle. He actively participates in the growth of corporate culture and keeps himself updated in this space. For any related queries, contact editor@vantagecircle.com

Book My 30-min Demo
Join us in driving a
Culture of Employee Appreciation Globally!
Vantage Rewards
Celebrating 2M+ Happy Corporate Employees
Elevating Company Culture Across

Know More
Not Interested

The Ultimate Guide to Employee Rewards and Recognition

The Ultimate Guide to Employee Rewards and Recognition