Ways to Spot Poor Leadership

By | September 7, 2018

[September 7, 2018]  A few days ago I got a call from an old friend who was recently promoted to CEO of a mid-sized manufacturing company in Indiana.  He wanted me to read a short article by author Mike Myatt entitled 12 Ways to Spot Ineffective Leadership.  My post today about poor leadership is partly based on his excellent article.

“If you really want to determine someone’s leadership ability, give them some responsibility and see what they do with it. Leaders produce results. It’s not always pretty, especially in the case of inexperienced leaders, but good leaders will find a way to get the job done.” – Mike Myatt, CEO of N2Growth and Forbes columnist

This quote by Mike Myatt really encompasses what I’ve been writing and talking about for years.  You can overanalyze leader performance (and we can spend a lot of fun doing it) but studying leadership comes down to whether a leader is successful, or not, in the long run.

Not everyone is ready for a leadership position and not everyone can handle the stress of doing the job day in and day out.  The following is a short list of ways to spot poor leadership that does not involve special and theoretical models.

  1. Character: When a person lacks integrity, nothing else really matters.  That individual will fail as a leader and it is irrelevant whether that leader is smart, likable, popular, persuasive, or savvy.  Anyone who justifies illegal, immoral, or unethical behavior is not a leader (or a good person).
  2. Accountability: Leaders are accountable.  They never blame others for failure and they never take credit for a great job.  They give credit to their team members at each opportunity.
  3. Caring: Good leaders take care of their team members.  Poor leaders care more about their career and personal comforts.  Poor leaders don’t provide the right resources at the right time to accomplish any organizational goal.
  4. Vision: Poor leaders lack the vision and the ability to look forward.  They often exist in an intellectual bubble that shields them from the realities of the world.  This means they cannot create a realistic vision because they don’t know what is happening around them.
  5. Communication: Poor leaders lack the basic skills of effective listening and communication.  They base their decisions on their personal feelings and do not know when to engage or simplify their messages.
  6. Selflessness: And finally, poor leaders don’t understand the concept of ‘service above self.’ Their pride, ego, arrogance, entitlement, or ‘I’m better than you’ attitude is a sign that they cannot put the good of the others above their own needs and wants.

The lesson for poor leaders is to fix their own problems before engaging others.  Whether it takes quality and sustained mentorship or not, taking action to overcome these ways of poor leadership is imperative.  Failure to do so will mean that leader will not succeed in the long haul.

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

22 thoughts on “Ways to Spot Poor Leadership

  1. Bryan Lee

    These are the best indicators but I bet that everyone here could add another 100 or so. Poor (or bad or horrible) leaders certainly have similar traits. For example, they don’t take of their people, they lie/cheat/steal, they are dishonest and usually don’t have the relevant experience. I’ve seen them everywhere. No wonder we say there is a need for good leaders.

    Reply
  2. Roger Yellowmule

    I’ve had some pretty bad bosses in my short career. I don’t know if it’s just bad Indian luck or I’m prone to live my life with them. Anyway, I think they all had each of the flaws you’ve mentioned here in your article. The biggest issue here is lack of character. I know you write often about it but most folks don’t realize the magnitude of importance. I would like to add one more to your list. Subterfuge. If that leader is ‘underhanded’ in their dealings with you, then they are also a poor leaders.

    Reply
  3. Gil Johnson

    More good work on leadership. Most of us, I would think, have built up a list very similar to this that gives us an idea when we meet a poor leadership. Great work here, Gen. Satterfield. Thank you for a great sendoff into the weekend.

    Reply
  4. Army Captain

    Sums it up pretty good. I also read Mike Myatt’s article and these two together do a great job of showing us what poor leadership is about. I find it pretty easy to spot these days but that comes with experience.

    Reply
  5. Georgie M.

    Thanks for another wonderful article that really gets down and dirty about poor leadership.
    🙂

    Reply
  6. Mr. T.J. Asper

    Great list. I’ll be sharing it with my football team. Have a great weekend.

    Reply
    1. Andrew Dooley

      I’m sure they’ll get a good laugh out of it too. Provide them with some examples to help make the lesson stick.

      Reply

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