10 Signs of a Poor Leader and What To Do About It

Posted by Susan Cullen on October 24, 2018

10 Signs of a Poor Leader and What To Do About ItLeaders have the ability to dictate an organization's future prosperity. Effective leaders can transform an organization by motivating people and serving as a mentor for others. They also help organizations remain focused on goals in the midst of volatile circumstances. 

Poor leaders, on the other hand, can cause an organization's demise with their lack of vision and lack of compassion. They fail to inspire employees and volunteers and are unable to maintain direction during challenging times. Below is a look at ten signs of a poor leader and the steps you can take to address the problem. 

1) Undependable

The path to effective leadership begins with dependability. A strong leader will take your phone calls, help you resolve problems, and provide guidance during challenging times. Ineffective leaders take the opposite approach. They are difficult to track down and hide from pressing problems. Here are some specific signs that highlight a leader's lack of dependability:

  • They are MIA when employees need them the most
  • They rarely follow through on promises
  • Their attendance is often poor 

2) Apprehensive

"The true grit of a leader is not how they perform during the good times but rather how they display emotional strength, courage and professionalism during the most trying times."  

Amy Modglin, President and Chief Inspiration Officer of Modglin Leadership Solutions 

Poor leaders rarely display strength or professionalism when times are tough. They are often indecisive and lack the courage to forge a path to success when the chips are down. Accomplished leaders, on the other hand, are battle-tested and approach challenges with strength, poise, and fortitude.

3) Dishonest

Psychologist and author Sherrie Campbell describes the key role that honesty plays in leadership when she states, "Honesty is the foundation exceptional leadership rests upon." Unfortunately, research findings show that honesty is a quality that is lacking among many leaders. Ineffective leaders rarely offer brutal honesty and can damage relationships with others for hiding the truth or attempting to sugarcoat an unpalatable situation.

4) Uncompassionate

A lack of compassion can hinder a leader's ability to connect with employees, business partners, and clients. Their lack of empathy and uncaring attitude can ward off employees and prospective customers. Compassionate leaders, on the other hand, are masters at building relationships and connections with people. 

"When we as leaders value the happiness of our people, they feel appreciated. They feel respected. And this makes them feel truly connected and engaged. It's no accident that organizations with more compassionate leaders have stronger connections between people, better collaboration, more trust, stronger commitment to the organization, and lower turnover."  

Rasmus Hougaard, Managing Director of Potential Project 

5) Biased

Poor leaders often exhibit favoritism when promoting internally. They rarely treat employees equally and are known to bypass a qualified candidate for a promotion in favor of a lesser qualified individual who supports their predatory workplace tactics. Biased leaders are often destructive to a team environment because of their tendency to favor certain employees over others without reason. 

6) Undignified

Leaders who lack dignity are useless when challenging situations arise. They are unable to maintain their poise when faced with problems and often react with hostility or volatility when confronted with problems. Leading with dignity begins with a recognition of the critical role that dignity plays in a productive workplace and the establishment of a workplace that holds people accountable for their actions.

7) Autocratic

One of the hallmarks of a poor leader is an autocratic approach to managing employees. Autocratic leaders often base their decisions on their own opinions and ideas as opposed to research or facts. They rarely engage with employees and business partners to seek their input, which can lead employees to feel undervalued and inconsequential.

8) Aloof

An ivory tower attitude can cause a destructive disconnect between leaders and other members of an organization. Unfortunately, poor leaders often appear to be uninterested in engaging with front-line employees. When this happens, leaders miss out on vital relationships and information that could be beneficial to an organization's productivity.

9) Demeaning

"Leaders demean others through careless comments that degrade their dignity, status, or character. An example is when a leader says or does things that communicates people are "less than" they really are. Stereotypical examples are asking an administrative assistant to pick up your dry cleaning or get you a cup of coffee, tasks clearly outside their job description."

- Randy Conley, Leading with Trust

Ineffective leaders can make the people around them feel inadequate or worthless. They often employ a combination of subtle and blatant tactics that compromises the dignity of the people around them. They are often overly critical and may resort to name calling in an effort to achieve results.

10) Unimaginative

Today's increasingly competitive business environment calls for leaders who are creative and innovative. David Slocum of the Berlin School of Creative Leadership highlights the need for leaders to embrace innovation and serve as "Imaginative Guides" for their organizations. Poor leaders lack these qualities, often falling back on the same methods they have used to conduct business for years. They are reluctant to take risks and try new approaches, which can ultimately cause their organizations to be surpassed by competitors with a more imaginative approach to leadership.  

What is the single best way to address poor leadership? 

The single best way to overcome poor leadership is to seek the guidance of an accomplished leadership training provider. With the expertise of a leadership training expert, you can arm your current and future leaders with the skills they need to motivate others and help your organization thrive.

The team of professionals at NexaLearning have delivered impressive results to clients such as Discover, Xerox, and United Airlines. Unlike fly-by-night providers who approach leadership development training as an isolated event, we recognize that learning does not occur in a vaccum. We invite you to contact us at NexaLearning to find out why 92% of the participants in our management training program feel better equipped to manage and motivate others. We look forward to helping you take your organization to the next level of success!  

Download our whitepaper "7 DEADLIEST Mistakes Training Managers Make When Providing a Leadership Program" if you want your training programs to hit the mark. You want them to get the results you need. And you want to receive accolades from participants. But how can you make sure you are providing best practice programs you can be sure will do that? Find out the 7 deadly mistakes that will derail your best of intentions.

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Topics: Leadership Skills


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