8 Traits of a Bad Leader in Any Context

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8 Traits of a Bad Leader in Any Context

8 Traits of a Bad Leader in Any Context

by Chris Daily

Most of the articles you will read are about what you need to be a great leader. We're going to take a different approach. We are going to talk about those poor leadership qualities that great leaders know to avoid. While your leadership style might not include all these bad leadership qualities, a good leader recognizes that bad leadership comes from a few poor leadership skills.

Everyone wants to be led by a good leader, but let’s face it—some poor leaders are just not good. Their bad leadership seems to be like a virus that eventually infects everyone around them. Whether it’s on the battlefield, the sports pitch, or the sales floor, certain leadership skills are universal about bad leadership.

Let's dig into some of these bad leader traits:


Bad leadership qualities include being dismissive.  Good leaders don't dismiss their teammates.


My way or the highway is the attitude of some bad leaders, but their teams really hate it, especially when they’re doing something wonky or stupid—and they keep doing it. A bad leader refuses to listen to any of the players on their team, probably because they’re so…


Being egotistical is one of the poor leadership qualities.  Good leaders demonstrate humility.


Nobody wants to work for a pompous person who thinks they’re the king of the world. Leaders with a big ego tend to lay blame on others and accept praise when others are successful. These bad leaders also tend to be unapproachable, which scares people off and fosters poor communication.


Empathy loading image.  Not having Empathy is one of poor leadership qualities.


Having empathy for a team member is a core component of good leaders. Not caring about your employees is a surefire way to make them feel unimportant and unappreciated, which in turn will lead them to unplug from the cause and find a different one where their contribution is celebrated.

A cat with a sour look on her face.  Carrying a grudge is one of the poor leadership qualities.


A good leader forgets personal offense and moves on, especially if they want to create a functional environment. By contrast, a bad leader holds on to personal offense and lets it affect everyone else’s work environment.

Permissive of Negativity

A good leader creates a safe space for his crew, but a bad leader fosters dissension, strife, and argument. To be fair, there have been plenty of effective leaders who have played people against each other, but those bad leaders fail, usually by being violently deposed in a coup…and you probably don’t want that if you’re a leader. This poor leadership quality can sink your career.


Dice comprising the word positive flippling to the word negative.  Negativity is one of the poor leadership qualities.


This particular point can drive people insane. It is impossible to create a functional environment when a bad leader is frequently changing what they want. You can never meet their expectations, and everyone’s time and money are wasted chasing the desires of yesterday. Good leaders walk the talk, providing consistency in their interactions with their team.

Not transparent

Granted, a great leader should not necessarily reveal everything to their team (for example, pay grades and salaries), but when it comes to operational goals, it’s important to make sure everyone is on the same page. A lack of clear direction by a bad leader because of hidden agendas will frequently put employees up against a wall of confusion. In addition, failing to communicate effectively can contribute to the appearance of not being transparent reinforcing the image of poor leadership.


Overworked leaders often leads to bad leadership.


An overworked leader is stressed out, snappy, and perhaps most importantly, shows employees that work-life balance is unimportant—a bad philosophy for human beings who often have personal responsibilities outside of work. An overworked leader leads to poor leadership decisions putting your leadership position in jeopardy.

Does any of this resonate with you? Do your teams struggle and you can't figure out why? You don't have to be stuck with the status quo. Great leaders take the initiative to fix bad leadership qualities, transforming poor leadership into great leadership. Take the initiative by checking out how Agile Meridian can help.