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Are you a Bad Leader? Four negative leadership traits that say you are.

by Jeremy Miller
(United States)

As you’re aware being the boss has many benefits. You’re in the unique position, with legitimate authority, to make important and lasting impacts to your organization and subordinates. However, being the boss also has its challenges. In addition to the added stress, hours, and the ultimate responsibility for everything under your purview, you also lose the benefit of unfiltered advice from your subordinates. A major area in which they may not verbalize their true feelings with you is with your leadership flaws; specifically, your negative leadership traits. We all have some less-than-favorable flaws in our leadership styles. Nonetheless, the way to succeed is to identify your own negative leadership traits and then overcome them. In case you’re having a difficult time in identifying yours…here are four predominate negative leadership traits.

Line-of-sight leadership

This leadership flaw is best described as when you assign tasks to people merely because they are the first person you see. In certain instances, such as in an emergency, an autocratic approach is best. However, the majority of the time a “knee jerk” selection is a horrible approach. Here’s the scenario – you, being the boss, have an actual office with a door. Your office opens up into an open-office area in which the majority of your employees reside. You receive “hot tasks,” open your door, and consistently assign them to the first person you see. Aside from this not being equitable in any way, shape, or form, you also stand the risk of burning out the employees who are forced to sit closest to your office. You also give the impression you have no forethought in the assignment of tasks. This highlights your inadequacy as a manager because one of your major roles is to synthesize everything coming into your unit to ensure it should be there, who it should go to, what exactly the deliverable is, and how long it should stay.

Failure to delegate

Failure to delegate is when you should be giving certain portions of your workload to your subordinate managers or line personnel. Many new leaders fail to delegate because they erroneously believe the things they did to get into a management position are the same thing which will keep them in a management position. However, this is very far from the truth as being a productive employee and a successful manager are not accomplishable via the same skill sets. A manager is no longer the subject matter expert or technician. The manager should rather be thought of as the quarterback, who is responsible for focusing their resources to complete a specific task or goal. As such, a major facet of this “focusing” involves developing your subordinates. This development is accomplished by gaining valuable experience through completing delegated tasks with minimal or no supervision. Let’s face it, the less direction your employees need from you in order to complete their core tasks equates to more time for you to focus on the overall processes and goals of your unit.

Praising in private but admonishing or rebuking in open forum
As people, it’s very valuable to us when everyone else sees we’re appreciated for our contributions and achievements on the job. Merely telling your direct reports and employees “good job” doesn’t have the same effect as commending them in open forum. Your public acknowledgement and appreciation of your employees’ contributions will motivate them internally to “go the extra mile” to accomplish the mission.

Conversely, rebuking your employees in public is the epitome of failure. Trust is at the core of all our relationships in life. We, as people, have an expectation the people we interact with are trust worthy. When this trust is brought into question or, worse yet, blatantly broken, it typically creates an acrimonious and tainted relationship. A lack of trust severally impedes business relationships and hinders the efficiencies necessary in mission accomplishment. We have to be very careful to not commit this faux pas. When you admonish someone in public, and again public can count as in front of anyone else other than you and that person, they’ll immediately lose trust in you. They’ll feel betrayed and you’ll do irreparable damage to the relationship. Why does it matter? Why should you care if your employees don’t trust you? You’re the boss aren’t you? Don’t they have to do what you tell them in order to get paid and to remain employed?

The problem is, typically mission accomplishment and success require motivated employees willing to do whatever it takes. Disenchanted employees only do what you tell them…and nothing more. The net effect is the organization will suffer due to your poor management skills.

Failing to base employee’s performance on clearly established standards

As the adage goes, “you can’t manage what you can’t count.” To the point, you must base your evaluation of your employees’ performance on clearly established and objectively measured standards. Otherwise, you’re basing your evaluations on the subjective, which does no one any good in the long run. Unfortunately, your subjectivity is a moving target and everyone has a different opinion of right and wrong or good and bad. When you as the leader create a work environment in which you subjectively rate their performance, they quickly realize they could never win or never satisfy the boss. Therefore, the only accurate and legitimate way to ascertain success is to utilize measures of effectiveness based on specific goals and clearly established standards. In order to recognize efficiencies and to see our employees excel in a role, we must explain to them what the clearly established standards are and then evaluate them by those standards. This goes a long way to reduce confusion and make them feel like things are fair; as no one likes to by treated or judged unfairly.


Being the boss is not merely about all of the benefits to which you’re entitled. There’s the larger element of the long-lasting impacts you have on your employees; which is directly related to the quality of your leadership and management. Therefore, it’s imperative you’re the best leader or manager you can possibly be. You have to look yourself in the mirror and ask the hard question – “Are you as good a leader as you should and can be?” Don’t lose sight of the fact there’s always somebody waiting in the wings to take your position who may even do it better than you and for less money. Pride, in and of itself, ought to motivate you to perfection. Now you’re familiar with the negative leadership traits which drag your organization and employees down versus building them up; which should be your ultimate goal.

So now go and be outstanding!

About the Author

As a prior Navy SEAL, military officer, business leader, and consultant, Jeremy’s been leading and managing high performance teams for over three decades. His “no nonsense” approach and practical techniques have repeatedly catapulted individuals, teams, and companies to success!

Comments for Are you a Bad Leader? Four negative leadership traits that say you are.

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by: Anonymous

As a member of worldwide groups fighting to create new laws, our members can become overly emotional while performing Administrative roles in communicating with opposing parties. This Article allowed us to see errors we were making which were hurting us in our goals and has shown us a positive way to interact and achieve our mission. Many thanks to the author as we will be incorporating this positive example of how to work together more affectively as a trusting team.
V. Grey, CEO of AASAP

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