My articles usually focus on how to be a good leader or 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. It is intended to be a little sardonic, so watch out for the humour in it and don’t take it personally.


Bad leaders fall into ten categories. 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, 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.

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.


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

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!

All the Best!
Wayne Kehl

Author's Bio: 

Wayne Kehl is an author, lecturer and behaviourist in British Columbia, Canada