Lousy leadership hurts company growth, employee morale and the productivity of middle managers. Bad leaders are toxic to company culture and employee well-being, hurting employee retention and brand reputation. Poor leadership is among top reasons why employees leave.
If you have ever experienced a bad leader, you know it. These are leaders who do not have the skills or style to guide and motivate teams effectively. Bad leaders lack empathy, play favorites, communicate poorly or are just plain difficult. In short, a bad leader can bring a team down.
Common signs of bad leadership include:
1. Poor communication: When leaders struggle with communication, which directly impacts performance and trust.
2. Lack of empathy: Bad leaders struggle at offering meaningful solutions to business and employee needs. They cannot see different perspectives, and they fail at appreciating, recognizing and supporting employees. In return, employees lose engagement and trust.
3. Avoids conflict: When leaders avoid conflict, problems fester. It makes it difficult for leaders to engage and inspire people to follow their direction.
4. No accountability: When leaders are not accountable, employees lose faith, and they may start to question decisions and motives. This erodes the foundation critical to effective collaboration and teamwork.
5. No self-development or growth: Bad leaders who lack personal growth can struggle to adapt to new challenges and innovations.
6. Fear of change: The inability to adapt to change impacts a leader’s ability to inspire employees and think creatively about the future.
7. Lack of vision: Getting stuck in the past and a “we’ve always done it this way” mentality limits employees’ eagerness to contribute fresh, new ideas.
8. No transparency: When employees are left out of important decisions, they feel disconnected from the business, not true partners. Lack of transparency can lead to a breakdown in trust. It can be difficult for employees to know what is expected of them, which leads to confusion and inefficiencies.
9. Bad time management and delegation: Poor leaders can quickly become overwhelmed and ineffective, hindering their ability to drive results and achieve success.
10. Micromanaging: When leaders micromanage, it indicates they do not trust their teams. This undermines confidence among team members, who may not feel motivated, valued or appreciated. It stifles creativity and innovation.
11. Inability to follow: A bad leader does not try to learn from others and does not follow other people’s directions easily.
12. Setting unrealistic expectations: A bad leader creates unnecessary stress for employees, managers, customers and investors by failing to properly estimate employee workload capacities and setting unrealistic expectations.
13. Failing to drive a people-first culture: When leaders do not put people first, they risk high turnover, low productivity and a drop in morale.
14. Lack of presence: Leaders who are not present and engaged with their team send a message that they are uninterested or uninvolved in what is happening around them. Employees are left feeling unvalued and unsupported, which hurts morale, motivation and engagement.
15. Disregarding the consumer: Leaders who disregard the consumer miss valuable feedback and insights that can help improve products, services and the customer experience. They also risk losing their customers’ trust and loyalty, which can hurt sales and long-term success.
The best organizations do not guess what employees think about an organization’s leadership; they ask them. Employee engagement survey insights provide quantitative and qualitative data about leadership to take actionable steps forward.
Bob Helbig is media partnerships director at Energage, a Philadelphia-based employee survey firm. Energage is the survey partner for Nevada Top Workplaces.