Top 10 Ways to Be a Bad Leader

Bad Boss

My articles usually focus on how to be a good leader, or perhaps a better leader. In fact, most leadership articles available on the internet or elsewhere focus on the positive elements of leading.

Many leadership writers prefer to write about completely positive things and focus on what leaders should do to be recognized as the best leaders.

In reality, the main reason we need to learn about leadership is so that we can avoid being bad leaders!

With that in mind, this article will talk about how bad leaders operate and the kinds of things they do to be recognized as having highly deficient or defective leadership skills.

Top 10 Ways to be a Bad Leader

People who are not capable of establishing a solid base of loyal, devoted followers can be identified by one or more of the following traits:

1) Command and Control leaders

It is “my way or the highway” for these folks. They fly around like chickens with their heads cut off, make a lot of demands, and rule by intimidation. Nothing is ever good enough for them.

2) Non-Leading Leaders

These are the leaders who either hide in their offices reading, emailing and holding the phone to their ear all day or leaders who are often absent from the workplace on the guise of doing important work somewhere else. They sometimes do not know the names of their employees and add little or nothing to the workplace experience.

3) Know-Nothing Leaders

Leaders who managed to get into a job leading something they have little or no knowledge of and often have no intention of learning. They try to inspire through some sort of personal style but their lack of knowledge of the department they control is evident to all. They are usually not aware that nobody is really following them.

4) Do-Nothing Leaders

Leaders who might actually know a lot about their department but choose to avoid getting involved with their employees or the work they do. They often delegate everything to lower-level line managers or supervisors because they think good delegation skills mean they don’t have to do anything. They are busy doing a lot of nothing.

5) Suck-up Leaders

These ones are so insecure and afraid of their employees that they always appear to be begging their teams to do their jobs. Often they are simply too nice for their own good. They are usually ineffective but if they are fortunate enough to have some sympathetic employees they might actually get a few things done.

6) Blind Leaders

These folks can see what is going on but are either too dense or too afraid to realize that it might be time for them to act like a leader. They allow bad behavior, poor performance, favouritism and employee conflicts to go on unabated. They often have high turnover rates and cannot understand why nobody wants to work for them.

7) Insincere Leaders

In order to get ahead,these leaders will say anything to anyone, at anytime, believing that the end justifies the means. They will make promises they cannot keep nor have any intention of keeping, and they will make false compliments to avoid conflict. They delude themselves of their own self-importance but nobody believes anything they say.

8 ) Gossiping Leaders

These folks gossip about their organization, their superiors, their employees, their customers, their suppliers and just about anything else that creates good, juicy water cooler talk. They do not understand confidentiality and they pit employee against employee and manager against manager, while avoiding their own responsibilities.

Employees don’t trust them and nobody wants to tell them anything because they know it will be repeated.

9) Defensive Leaders

Leaders who never take responsibility for anything. These people always blame someone else when things go wrong and take all of the glory for themselves when things go right. They are the antithesis of leadership but they think that by deflecting blame, and hoarding success, they are fooling everyone…but nobody is being fooled.

10) Uncommunicative Leaders

These leaders refuse to tell anyone, anything. They do not feel that employees have the right to know what is going on beyond their specific work-stations or that they have any business knowing about the relative success or failure of their organization.

They withhold financial information and refuse to speak to subordinates about the lofty management plans they have or the organizational decisions they might make. Every new thing that happens in the organization comes as a surprise, and usually on short-notice to the workers.

Employee dissatisfaction and poor morale reign in their empires.

Know Your Leader

Everyone on earth who has ever had a job has known a leader with some of the traits indicated here. If you do not want to be a bad leader, the key is to recognize the mistakes you might be making and strive to eliminate and avoid repeating them.

If, on the other hand, you are okay with being a bad leader then try out all of the ideas presented here to see which ones create the worst results.

The Ten A’s of Bad Leadership

Often, people who operate in one or more of the ten categories of bad leadership will display some of the following behaviours on a regular basis:

  1. Arrogance
  2. Anxiety
  3. Aloofness
  4. Anger
  5. Apathy
  6. Absenteeism
  7. Annoyance
  8. Agitation
  9. Antagonism
  10. Aimlessness

Want to be a Bad Leader? Then simply practice some or all of these for maximum morale-killing effects!

There you have it:

Some great ways to be a bad leader! If you utilize as many of these secrets as possible, you too, can join the ranks of the worst leaders on earth.

Start by showing this article to a trusted colleague or employee and ask him or her if you are guilty of any of these things…

Then, get to work making a difference in yourself!


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Wayne Kehl is President and CCO at Dynamic Leadership Inc
He is author and behavioral analyst who lectures on leadership and motivation
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18 responses to “Top 10 Ways to Be a Bad Leader

  1. This is an extremely poorly written article. There is no basis for these assumptions, it is written as though someone went on a rant about all the poor bosses they have had in the past. This offers no advice on how to change your skills if you recognize any of these behaviors in yourself. In addition suggesting that if you display one or more of the ‘A’ list of bad behaviors you might be a bad boss.

    Again, this is not constructive and can be taken out of context (like reading the symptoms of a medical condition and thinking you have it because you display the symptoms when in fact, numerous other factors can be involved). I initially read the article because I thought it was a spin on the typical ‘good leader’ article but offers NO advice on what actually it means to be these types of leaders, why someone might have these traits, how it effects employees and workplace productivity and how to correct these issues (which in some cases would probably involve classes or even counseling).

    I’m disappointed in Linked2Leadership in providing a poor article that had such promise.


    • Hi Brandi,

      You may have missed the point of this article. It is clear that this was written in a tongue and cheek fashion to bring humour to the subject of leadership. This article emphasizes the fact that some leaders exhibit behaviours which are not conducive to good morale. I found this interesting and entertaining!


      • Hi Debbie,

        Thanks for pointing this out. I found the article fun and entertaining and clear from the beginning.

        …Of course, I write articles with titles like “How to Lead Ugly People,” so who am I to comment 🙂



  2. Just an FYI: the website and blog gives lots of tips on how to be a good leader.


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  4. I think Wayne’s article suffers mostly from Sarcasm-Fails-Online syndrome—and I should know, as a chronic sufferer myself. As a leader, I have had employees actually ask (as in complaining) me why I was gone an extra day from the office. There was no deadline- or task-tied fallout to my absence; they were complaining because they liked my presence in the office. AND YET, this article pointed out to me three separate items I could clearly see I had suffered from as a popular and effective (on most days) leader. In my experience, it is common in the psychological make up of proven leaders and managers that they often can’t see (the forest for the trees) their own weaknesses as easily as their strengths on a daily basis. Their daily success is what got them there in the first place!, but can, as the author points out, be or become their downside(s), as well.

    Mere identification can lead to acknowledgement, which can lead to the author’s suggestion to “…get to work making a difference in yourself.” Conversely, real leaders know how (to seek appropriate information, help and/or do the work).


  5. Wayne — You must have done a deep dive within Corporate America to find this list; oh, wait – on second thought it wouldn’t have taken a deep dive at all, would it?

    Unforuntaely, I have to take exception w/ Brandi’s assertion above: you don’t have to look far or wide to find bad bosses. If she hasn’t experienced a plethora of them, she should count herself lucky!

    Another great Wayne Kehl post!


  6. Being a strong and effective leader can be very challenging for some people. In sales and business it is one of the most important parts of being successful. I always tell my retail sales clients that positive leadership and management will serve your employees and customers 10 times more than negative leadership.


  7. Thanks so much to everyone for commenting on my little article! My intent was to reveal light by showing the dark side of leadership in a somewhat sardonic way. I value all of your input because opinions are really only actualizations of personal perceptions so they can never be wrong. I learn something from every opinion I hear or read.
    Keep smiling, everybody!
    All the Best!


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  13. great article, it really helped and bless me and my office, a difference has taken place in the last two weeks. thks


    • That is wonderful to hear, Dr. Vette! Change for the better is always the primary goal!


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