The Subtle, but Chilling Types of Bad Leadership

We’re all professionals who have been around the block a couple of times, right? So, let’s talk frankly about the more subtle signs of bad leadership that, when viewed through an amateur lens, can be misunderstood.


Fact: Good leaders build loyalty to ideas and the whole organization. Bad leaders build loyalty to themselves.

Above the surface – Perhaps you have a department or team that seem super strong and well connected. People might even desire to be a part of this team because it really feels like they are having a ton of fun. The leader has a bold personality and has the backs of her people at all cost. 

Below the surface – This team seems to have “rubs” with someone all the time. And, they band together for strength. There is a lot of internal validation and exaggeration of the “rub” and the person or team it is directed at is clearly outnumbered and outsmarted.  The leader is the glue that holds it together and if she left, the team would fall apart.

Why this is bad – When teams of people are working at the pleasure of one person and for the purpose of only reinforcing the strength of that specific team, the organizational ideas/priorities/goals become secondary to the team’s ideas/priorities/goals. The strength of that team becomes the weakness of the organization. 


Fact: The loudest, most confident voice can stifle forward-movement.

Above the surface – Your leader is powerful and likes his role as the go-to-always-has-the-answer-person. He has a big personality and draws people and energy to him. Employees and outsiders are easily awed by his charm and presence. 

Below the surface – He doesn’t seem to have many long conversations with the people that work with him. There is very little debate or sharing of ideas around him and those who do attempt this are “held back” in subtle ways. What he gains in big first impressions, he loses in developing real relationships.

Why this is bad – Open exchange of ideas and productive conflict is key to forward moving and growing as an organization. A culture that supports this is critical to the longevity of the organization, especially after this leader is gone. 


Fact: Good leaders keep a ship moving forward by empowering others. Bad leaders move a ship forward by doing it themselves. 

Above the surface – The leader is the hardest working person in the room. She makes the most sales, does the most work for every project and delivers every single time. She is the cornerstone of every big deal and is the most reliable person on the team. She follows-through every single time.

Below the surface – The team members are weak and not sure of their place. There is nobody supporting them in their role or their professional development. They aren’t gaining skills or given opportunities to try new things. Some team members may even seem lazy on the surface because their contributions aren’t significant enough to matter, so they don’t bother to give it much effort. 

Why this is bad – Leadership isn’t about being the MVP of the team. It’s about raising other leaders to do their very best work. If there is a culture that supports people, helps them grow and works toward common goals, that organization is significantly more likely to be strong and viable long into the future.


Step 1 – Awareness – nothing will change unless the leader is aware of these problems and how they affect others.

Step 2 – Co-Creation of Intentional People-Development – we will work together to weave your existing programs and our training and coaching into a comprehensive system built for your unique needs and people.  

Step 3 – Evaluation – throughout our work together, we’ll evaluate improvement, continued challenges and new opportunities, continuously building your program to be better.


We would love to talk to you and help your organization and leaders do better! Let’s connect…