I design and facilitate leadership training and have a unique opportunity to examine many kinds of leadership styles and approaches with many smart people. Over the years I've noticed a type of leadership that creates all kinds of workplace distress. It's an approach where a leader is so caught up in his or her own insecurities and limitations that he or she makes everyone else's life nearly impossible. This creates workplaces where people are unhappy and morale is low. These leaders almost invariably are completely unaware that they are creating a negative dynamic.

Ineffective leaders are not the exception, they thrive in our workplaces. So why do so many leaders take this approach? It's almost as if someone told them that leadership is about chaos and imposing some kind of iron-fisted rule while forgetting that people matter and that workplaces can be fun. To find an answer to this perplexing leadership conundrum let's look at at five characteristics of ineffective leaders.


This leader does anything to preserve a fragile image of himself or herself. Anything that threatens his (or her) illusion of power has to be immediately crushed. People like this are always concerned about how powerful they look to others or how great people think they are. They'll go as far as making other feel terrible in order to feed their own need for validation.

Obsession about Power and Control

This type of leader can't even fathom the idea that someone else might have a good idea or be able to work independently. They relish imposing their will and commanding respect under the guise of leadership. This person feels very uncomfortable when someone else is making decisions or has a great idea because they think it takes away their power. They are constantly asserting their rank and position and trying to dominate others.


This person is always running around putting out fires. If you wait a moment they'll change their minds on what's required to complete any related task. They'll rarely admit that this approach is highly inefficient and simply keep coming up with new, random stuff to do. Planning and prioritization are non-existent concepts in this leader's mind. When employees complain about the chaos this leader creates more chaos to divert attention.


It's all about me is this leader's mantra. Nobody could possibly be as wonderful or talented as him or have a perspective that brings more goodness to the world. This person has difficulty acknowledging other ideas or perspectives because they could never be as good as his own. This leader will say rude things or hurt others because he has no clue what impact his words and actions have on people. He is, however, keenly aware when others hurt him.

Working Out Personal Issues on the Job

This type of leader doesn't realize that his personal unhappiness, or issues related to his upbringing, deeply affect his functioning on the job. He will have life or death struggles with employees over even the most minuscule things because he's really working out things that are unfinished in his personal life. He doesn't realize that he would create a happier workplace and live a more pleasant life if he was a more balanced person.

Ask yourself if you've ever worked with a leader like this. What was it like? Do you do any of these things? Leaders who practice these behaviors aren't evil, they've just never learned how to do anything else. They genuinely believe these ideas work, which speaks to the idea that many leaders arrive in their positions with little training on how to actually lead with kindness and compassion and get great results.

As a leader, you have a choice about how you lead. Will you help people grow and succeed or will you create the standard workplace where employees grit their teeth and hang on for dear life because they need the paycheck. Effective leaders don't have some magic formula, they simply practice behaviors that lead to workplace health and happiness. What will you do to become an effective leader?

Author's Bio: 

I specialize in unconventional team building, effective communication, leadership and diversity training for enlightened leaders who value self-awareness and practicing positive behaviors. Visit me online at http://www.theselfawarenessguy.com/.