7 Qualities of Bad Leadership and How to Fix Them

Bosses and managers with bad leadership skills are common. After all, not everyone is capable of leading a team and managing lots of different tasks. Many people become leaders simply because they started the company or because they have worked there for a long time. 

Good leaders are those who always aim to serve the team in the best way possible. Bad leaders, on the other hand, can negatively affect their employees, their quality of work, and their potential to succeed. 

Whether you’re new to leadership or have been in a leadership position for years, it’s worth being aware of the qualities of a bad leader and how to avoid them. Of course, no one is perfect, but if you know there is something you aren’t good at, you can work to try and improve it. It is also helpful to know the signs of bad leadership when you are responsible for choosing a new leader, or when you are considering a new job with a new manager. You don’t want to work with a bad leader, so you should rule out candidates who show too many of these qualities. 

So, what are some of the qualities of bad leadership and how can you fix them for yourself or for your organization?

  • Micromanaging
    Micromanaging is when a leader gives too much supervision to employees, tries to control how they work and constantly checks on their progress. When a manager does this, it shows a lack of trust and a lack of belief in the team’s abilities. This can make other people feel stressed and ruin the confidence they have in their work. 

Although there may be a temptation to be involved at every point of the project, this is not realistic and can slow down the process. No one likes a manager who is constantly looking over their shoulder, so it is best to put practices in place to avoid this. For example, your company could introduce a system of team leaders. This would allow the ultimate leader to relax a bit more, knowing other people who have things under control. It would also allow the leader to delegate, or give tasks to other people. This is important as it provides other employees with chances for professional development. A company could also introduce a more flexible schedule for performance updates, to prevent leaders from asking too often. 

  • Blaming

If something goes wrong and the leader’s first reaction is to ask whose fault it is, this is a bad sign. It will create a culture of shame in the workplace and people will feel like it is not okay to make mistakes. But mistakes are normal and they are how we learn! As a leader, you need to handle problems in a certain way, otherwise people will come to fear and dislike you. If a problem comes up, a leader should help the team to figure out a solution, instead of focusing on who caused the problem. This will help the team learn how they can improve. It will also let them know they can ask for help, instead of being scared of getting into trouble. In the long term, this can really help to improve the quality of work produced by the team. 

  • Bad communication 

Poor communication skills are some of the first poor leadership qualities you can look out for. Good communication is essential in any leadership role. When a leader is unable to communicate properly, this can lead to misunderstandings, delays, failures and unhappy co-workers. Overall, this will have a negative effect on the company, affecting the efficiency of the work and destroying relationships between people. A leader needs to be able to communicate the company’s goals and strategy. This ensures that everyone understands the common focus and works together to achieve success. To make sure there is good communication, a leader should aim to have regular meetings with the rest of the team. In these meetings, they can discuss the progress of the project, whether there are any updates people need to know about, and whether anything needs to be done differently. This also gives people a chance to ask questions and feel they are being supported in their work. A leader could also consider sending an email every few days with any important information people need to know. As a leader, ask yourself whether the information that comes your way is important for your team to know about. Whenever the answer is yes, make a note to communicate this to everyone and keep them updated. 

  • Encouraging negativity 

One of the worst things a leader can do is encourage negativity in the workplace. This is when a leader always focuses on the negative rather than on the positive, and it can be bad for the motivation of everyone else. They will think that because the leader does it, it is okay to complain all the time. When people focus on the negative, it means they spend less time trying to do better. A leader should identify negative thinking in themselves and others and encourage positivity instead. This will improve the working environment and mean the team is more likely to succeed. 

  • Gossiping and bias

Besides being negative, there are many other ways a leader can affect the team. If a leader allows or is involved in gossiping or favouritism, for example, it can harm team spirit. Other people will feel the workplace is toxic, or believe their work is not being appreciated. While a leader should be open to feedback and discussion, they should not speak about anyone in the team with other team members. If there are any issues with a member of the team, the leader should talk to that person individually. After all, a leader must remember they are in a more senior role than everyone else and they need to set the example. It is also a bad sign if a leader shows favouritism, or has a habit of supporting or opposing someone in an unfair way. For example, a leader might always choose male employees for a task instead of females. Sometimes this is even unconscious. To avoid this, it is important for leaders to set up a system where other people can voice their concerns. This will ensure they are made aware of their bias and how it might lead them to discrimination. 

  • Not listening to others, interrupting, multitasking

A good leader should respect the members of the team, their ideas and their time. A bad leader will often forget to do this. For example, if a leader interrupts discussions and doesn’t let other people speak, it shows they are not interested in listening to other people and what they have to say. Perhaps they believe that because they are the leader, they know the correct way to do everything. However, this is not the case, and by not letting everyone speak, there is a risk great ideas will be suppressed. As a leader, you should always listen to what your team members have to say and wait until they are done speaking, even if you disagree with them. A leader should be the last to say what they think. 

Once everyone has had an opportunity to join a discussion, a leader can give their opinion. This is another time when a bad leader can reveal themselves. A sign of bad leadership is if they immediately say no to other people’s ideas and suggest their own instead. If this becomes a pattern, other people will not be confident about their own ideas and they won’t want to work as hard. Companies should make sure there are proper HR channels for people to bring up issues like this so that bad leadership can’t continue. 

Finally, it is never a good sign if a leader or manager always seems to be distracted or not listening in meetings. Many managers will often multitask and be on their phone or laptop at the same time. This shows they are not giving the rest of the room their full attention, and it will affect everyone else’s motivation. As a leader, you need to focus on being good at time management, and only ever do one thing at a time. This will show your team that you really care and you want them to succeed. 

  • Doing the opposite of what they say

It is important for a leader to mean what they say. If a leader constantly changes their mind, this shows they are not able to act decisively. When they say they are going to do a task, or agree to do something a certain way, they should follow through. For example, if your manager says they respect boundaries and believe in having a work-life balance then sends emails late at night, it shows they don’t mean what they say. Although the email might not need a response until the next day, it will be on the person’s mind and distract them from relaxing. There are alternatives that can keep everyone happy. A leader can work as late as they want but only schedule the email to send the next morning. This means they won’t forget anything important they might be working on, while also respecting employees’ personal time.

Once again, another option is to ensure there are proper channels for feedback. When people have a way to communicate problems within the job, it decreases the chance they will start to dislike their boss. If a problem can be brought up and addressed without it becoming personal, everyone will be happier. Leaders should make sure they remember the promises they make to their team and keep them.

So, you see, there are many ways in which leaders can fail their team members. Of course, no one is perfect, but even leaders can learn new ways to grow and improve. Being a leader is a tough job, but an important one, and it is essential that they always aim to serve the team. If you’re a leader, why don’t you go through this list and think about whether you have any of these qualities? You may realize you have more than one. But as long as you are aware of them, and make an effort to improve, you will be heading in the right direction to becoming a great leader.

Topic: Sweet teams are made of this