3 Signs of Bad Leadership

Guy yelling, demonstrating poor leadership

To me, there are many ways to be a great leader, but there are three major warning signs of bad leadership. 

I have an amazing job; my work enables me to meet and interact with many people. My company, Strategic Pathways, has conducted thousands of employee surveys, exit interviews and focus groups. 

This information gleaned from these conversations enables us to build an invaluable database of employee thoughts, feelings and opinions regarding their organizations and their bosses.

I am frequently asked to speak about the key traits, habits, behaviours and styles of great leaders. From my experience gathering this information, here's is what prevents so many from becoming the great leaders they are capable of being.

Avoiding Conflict & Decisions

If I were to single out one trait among the worst of management and leadership behaviours it is unquestionably, the reluctance to deal with conflict and decisions.

One of the most commonly articulated refrains from staff members who have voiced their frustrations through surveys, exit interviews and focus groups, is, "I just wish they would do something."

Being a leader and managing people is not an easy job. Those who take on management and leadership positions do so with the full knowledge that their every action and statement will be reviewed and scrutinized.

Dealing with conflict as it occurs, and making leadership decisions – particularly the tough, challenging and frequently unpopular ones – are mandatory if a leader wants favourable reviews.

I don't believe anyone goes to work wanting or hoping to be involved in conflict, but the irrefutable truth about conflict it is this: it will occur. When it does, your employees expect it will be dealt with.

Being conflict-averse is not an admirable leadership skill, and being decision-reluctant will literally ensure the failure of anyone’s leadership tenure.

Communication Failures

The best definition of a great leader that I have heard states, "A great leader is a person who willingly causes those around him/her to go along with his/her thoughts, ideas and suggestions." This happens through good communication.

Telling, not asking, is viewed not only as impolite, but it also shows a leader who doesn't understand how  to encourage and inspire a team. 

Not responding to incoming communication (voicemail, email, etc.) moves people away from being willing and eager employees, nudging them into the “grudging” category. No one likes to feel ignored.

Being invisible is a trait too many people use to describe their boss, and never as a term of endearment.

Lack of Gratitude

Finally, perhaps the most critically reviewed trait, and certainly the one I've heard most commonly, is the absence of any form of gratitude or recognition by leaders. This, directs employees to feel unappreciated, not cared for and, most damaging to outcomes, uninspired.

Uninspired people never perform at their best and, make no mistake about it, leaders who are not inspiring are, by default, uninspiring.

a number of books lined up together


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