Work long enough in any industry and you’ve likely had a terrible boss and plenty of stories about them. Instinctively we all know what makes a bad leader, but once you’re in a leadership position it can be hard to keep that perspective and avoid the pitfalls of bad leadership. Here are the top 9 characteristics of bad leaders that you should try to avoid at all costs.
Losing Their Cool
Any management situation is inevitably a social interaction, and any interaction revolves, to some degree, around emotions. The hallmark of a good manager is they are able to control their emotions and thus remain in control of the situation.
Frank Conquers, a career writer at Last Minute Writing and Researchpapersuk, says that “Compromise is an important negotiation tactic, but it’s important to know what you will compromise on and what you should stick to your guns about. Your personal values are something you should never have to compromise on, even if it leads to a positive outcome or an avoided conflict.”
Some leaders see bullying as another feasible negotiation tactic, but these leaders are rarely respected and even more rarely successful. Encouragement and positivity is and always will be a better motivator than fear, meaning bullying is directly counterproductive, and it is far more likely to lead to isolation and failed relationships. Instead, nurture your social connections and value your employees, not just as workers but as human beings.
To provide good guidance a leader needs to clearly state their expectations and provide specific and obvious instruction to employees. All of this depends on good communication. When instructions are ambiguous or the CEO appears uncontactable, uncertainty reigns and productivity suffers. Always strive towards clarity and approachability.
A successful project depends on clear and concise goals, so if a leader fails to adequately prioritize their aims work effort is divided and projects lose momentum. Plus, employees are less likely to follow someone who doesn’t seem to have made their mind up on what direction the company is going. Make strong decisions about priorities and stick to them.
Wynt Erwishes, a manager at Draftbeyond and Writinity, points out that “making mistakes is natural, and there’s no question that managers should chase up employees who make mistakes. Even so, it’s still not a nice feeling to have the boss tell you you’ve screwed up, so try to make the procedure as painless as possible. Calling out your employees in public, in view of other workers, can have a huge impact on self-esteem and end up demotivating employees much more than if you’d done so in private, even if you’re saying the same thing.”
I’ve alluded to it above: a leader should be approachable. Keeping in touch with your employees, both online and in person, will not only keep you in the loop with project performance, but also help employees view you as engaged and trustworthy. Employees should feel they’re able to bring up small questions and problems, rather than waiting until they’re causing a huge issue before telling you.
Praising performance is only natural, but be aware that you’re not focussing too much on a handful of employees. If other employees feel like their successes will never be recognized they will stop bothering to reach for them. Keep tabs on all your employees and give praise equally where earned.
Probably the most obvious on this list — and yet sometimes the hardest to avoid — is leaders acting like they know best because they’re the boss. It can manifest in the smallest of ways, from ignoring suggestions to diverting whole projects, but it’s something to keep track of. It’s this style of thinking that leads to domineering, close-minded leaders that no one likes and rarely succeed. Even if you are the most knowledgeable in one area, there will always be times when you’re not the expert, and a good leader can identify these moments and listen to the advice of others.
Conclusion: Learn and Grow
Good leadership is hard, and the path to get there is paved with mistakes. Be humble, learn from them, and you will be on your way to great leadership.