Leaders are different from managers and even different from bosses. Leaders don’t have to be your CEO, but the person you follow when the going gets tough.

To keep it simple, we’re focusing on people in business organisations that are in a leadership role – CEOs, GMs, MDs, or even senior managers.

Here are ten traits great leaders have.

Here are five leadership qualities that bad leaders have.

Absenteeism: Never being there

A smart leader knows how to delegate. From administrative tasks, management decisions and execution, but if your boss is never around or simply can’t manage the situation, chances are you’ll be dissatisfied at work.

Bosses who are only at meetings, but have almost no role in anything beyond that often means they aren’t leaders, but merely figureheads there to show ‘face’.

If you’re not getting direction or feedback from your boss, you might be faced with more big, stressful decisions or confusion about your day-to-day responsibilities. If there are interpersonal conflicts among you and your colleagues, but no one is mediating them, that might be another source of stress.

Unnecessary optimism

The opposite of a negative person in business is someone who is excessively optimistic. This may seem great, but the ‘everything will work out’ attitude is not ideal when your back’s against the wall and your team is looking for leadership. The ability to take control, correct the course, and make important decisions is essential to a great leader.

Overly optimistic leaders can be “accidental diminishers.” This means that you can diminish the hard work employees are doing by not acknowledging their efforts have a significant impact on your success. In any great business, the effort is required to achieve your targets, so not giving credit where credit is due can be depressing and demoralising. Also, have unrealistic goals because ‘everything will work out’ can further demoralise your team.

Read the 10 traits every successful entrepreneur has.

Micromanagers ruin productivity

Controlling bosses who always have to be involved, can’t delegate effectively and check in with employees incessantly are amongst the worst types of leaders.

Micromanagers can be the most detrimental aspect to a business in any field or sector, or any stage of the company’s lifecycle. Not only does it impact productivity, but destroys company morale and increases employee turnover.

Ultimately, workers need autonomy at work, so that they can experiment and develop creative solutions. That’s why great bosses empower and encourage their employees to make decisions for themselves, and don’t interfere. If you step in the moment trouble arises, you might be that micromanager that can’t help but take back the reins. This destroys trust between leaders and employees.

Unnecessary criticism

The old adage “You can more bees with honey” might not work in every situation, but it is shown that giving the correct type of praise is even better than constructive criticism.

This goes beyond a high five and a pat on the back but praising the right aspects of everything your employee does, rather than a general wide sweeping statement that comes off as being lazy.

A bright blue neon on a wall reads “Work harder”

Being overly critical of minor mistakes can demoralise your staff and they often don’t learn from their mistakes, because there is rarely any lesson. It is mostly an exercise to instill fear or an act of frustration. Look for instances to teach, then praise progress by highlighting the specific improvements.

An inflexible leadership style

You’re likely familiar with the concept that, when dealing with people, you have to treat people differently. A one-size-fits-all leadership style doesn’t work, especially in startups and smaller companies. Larger companies often have an overarching style that has variance in the different departments and flexibility within teams.

As technology and culture evolve, leaders should also be willing to adapt to position their company for success. The idea of “This is the way we’ve always done things” isn’t going to work as your company grows or as your employees start to change.


There you have it, the five signs we think are common in bad leaders. To read more articles like this, visit Voices.