10 poor leadership qualities you should stay away from

March 17, 2021

Poor leadership qualities you should stay away from

Bosses and managers with poor leadership qualities are very common. After all, not everyone was born with all the traits a good leader should possess

But what differentiates bad from a good leader? A good leader is one that constantly questions, reflects and self-evaluates with one goal in mind – to serve their team in the best way possible. Poor managers, on the other hand, can be swiftly recognised by these bad-boss signs

If you’re in a leadership role, being aware of the bad leadership qualities can help you recognise some of them in yourself. Because there is always room for improvement and if you diligently work to eliminate your poor leadership qualities, in due time you’ll be a better leader for your subordinates. 

10 most common poor leadership qualities

Unfortunately, bad leadership qualities are very common in the business world. This often happens due to people being promoted to roles that they cannot fulfil. Or because a business owner can’t understand that being the owner doesn’t make you a quality leader by default.

The following are the most common poor leadership qualities you should not adopt if you want to become a good leader.

Poor communication skills

Poor communication skills are one of the first poor leadership qualities to watch out for. Bad communication can destroy an organisation and the relationships among its people, and the number of issues that can emerge are endless. It can create misunderstandings, bottlenecks, failures, and dissatisfied customers and employees.

If a leader cannot effectively communicate the company’s goals, vision and strategy, the company will never achieve its mission and will miserably fail. Good written and verbal communication is a must for any leader.

No adaptability

It is no longer possible for one management style to fit with every situation or person. Adopting a non-adaptable and inflexible style is a typical poor leadership quality. Authoritarian bossing around is no longer welcomed and accepted by the employees and it also limits the company’s ability to progress and evolve. 

A good leader must understand how and when to adapt their management style. Being flexible is no longer an option, rather it’s a must if you want to create a successful company.


Micromanagement is up there among the worst poor leadership qualities. It is a highly inflexible approach and never delivers results to be proud of. Leaders that tend to micromanage their employees are doomed to failure as this doesn’t work in the long term. With micromanagement, you are essentially limiting the growth of your team. 

It is rather much more beneficial to give your employees ownership of their processes and projects. With little guidance, you can make it clear to them what the goals are and why are these important. This will challenge the employee and motivate them to outperform their past efforts and improve their skills. By eliminating micromanagement you’re opening the door to growth and evolution.

Avoiding conflict

This is one of the bad leadership qualities as it leads to conflicts and serious situations to emerge in the company. Avoiding conflict merely postpones the inevitable and leaves room for issues to escalate. If there is conflict within your team or even departments, a good leader deals with it straight away. They know that it is impossible to please everyone and are comfortable with making hard decisions, as it is a crucial part of their role as a leader.

Lack of ambition and vision

Lacking the ability to think forward is a bad leadership quality a good leader cannot afford to have. This signals that the leader is happy with the status quo and shows that the company is lacking the ambition to achieve a vision and other more challenging goals. 

This poor leadership quality is the one that stops progress and makes the company stagnate. When growth and progress stop, the future is clear, it only goes downwards from thereon. 

In contrast, a good leader would be forward-thinking and always ready for change and improvement. A good leader acknowledges that innovation and constant evolution is the way to achieve even higher successes and inspire employees.

A know-it-all attitude

No one can know it all, this attitude is yet another of the poor leadership qualities we must strive to eliminate. A good leader should accept that they cannot know everything and be open to find the right people for the right situation or project. It’s a poor leader’s quality to act as if they are the smartest person in the room or act as if they are always right. 

Moreover, this type of attitude demoralises employees and leads to business failure. Good leaders know that they cannot do everything themselves and are open to ask for advice and opinions. They know the advantage that comes from having a large talent pool and rely on the knowledge of other people.

Lacking customer focus

The lack of customer focus can sink a business. If a leader doesn’t acknowledge their customer and what their needs are then it is highly likely that the company will quickly fall behind their competitors that do that. Thus a good leader must be customer-focused, know who they are serving, what they need and how to fulfil their needs. Remember, the customer is king and you must always strive to deliver the best experience in order to gain high customer satisfaction.

No accountability

Bad leaders embody one of the poorest leadership qualities and that is lack of accountability or ownership. Good leaders understand the value of taking responsibility for their actions. They don’t blame others and don’t claim credit for the team’s success and achievements. 

Great leaders show accountability to their team. This is a noble quality that makes leaders human and shows their confidence and strength. If a leader is not accountable to their team, then they risk losing the trust and confidence of their people. This is one of the worst outcomes a company may have as it threatens to destroy its entire mission and achievements.

No sense of priority or focus

Lacking focus is another example of bad leadership. A leader who is missing focus and sense of prioritization will fail to adequately allocate resources in an effort to achieve the company’s goals. These leaders fail their team and their company. Companies led by such leaders face a high risk of failure as there is no clear focus and intention to achieve the company’s goals. 

Good leaders must constantly double-check that the decisions they are making correlate and are aligned with the goals in order to effectively achieve the company’s goals. They know when and how to prioritize depending on the current situation of their organization.

Inability to create a company culture

Companies with a clearly set company culture are able to empower and uplift their teams. If you’re striving to become a good leader you must not fall victim to this poor leadership quality. A good leader will recognise the value of the right company culture and will seek ways to support it. 

By developing the right culture for your organization you can easily focus your efforts on recruiting talent that will be in sync with your culture. Be careful who you hire as that is the first step in disrupting the harmony of your company culture. Good leaders create their company culture by design and poor leaders let it create itself. Having control over the culture inevitably helps you control the atmosphere and work environment.

Lessons we can learn from bad leadership qualities

Bad leadership qualities threaten the success of a manager, their team and the company. In order to be successful in their role as a leader, managers need to adopt a flexible management style, open and honest communication, clear vision and focus, support the company culture and stop micromanaging. 

It is not easy to eliminate all the poor leadership qualities we mentioned above, especially not all at once. So our advice is to constantly evaluate yourself and identify ways you can improve your leadership style. By tackling each of these bad qualities one by one you are sure to achieve progress and growth. 

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