10 Things That We Hate About Bad ‘Leaders’

Have you ever found that you look to the person in charge and think, “How on Earth did they get that role?”

We have all heard of the Peter Principle – namely that people get promoted to the level of his or her incompetence. This may well give us an insight into why organizations can be bereft of leadership. But poor leaders are not just incompetent, they can be downright destructive. They are often driven by self-serving notions of his or her own importance.


I write ‘leaders’ in inverted commas because the characteristics we hate about bad leaders mean that by definition, they are not a true leader.

Have you ever found that you look to the person in charge and think, “How on Earth did they get that role?” This might be a community leader, the CEO of a business or an educator. They are people in leadership roles who we wonder how they got to be in that position and we struggle to respect them, let alone trust them. We could make sweeping generalizations here about politicians, but the issue is far broader and deeper throughout the community….

But the reality is that no matter how much we talk about leadership and the need for development and training for people in leadership roles, we still see new leaders mirroring the behaviors of the leaders that went before them. The cycle needs to change.

Here are 10 traits that we hate the most about poor leadership:

  1. You just can’t trust them – you don’t believe in what they say and they don’t do what they say they will
  2. They think they know everything and are happy to tell anyone that they know it all.
  3. They blame people or circumstances when things don’t go well
  4. The don’t listen and talk over people
  5. They are not present or focused – they think they have a ‘right’ to check their smart phone anytime, even in board meetings or presentations.
  6. They put people down and attack the ‘man’ rather than reviewing the argument or actions.
  7. They believe “It’s my way or the highway.” Never allowing others to contribute other ideas.
  8. They are divisive and mean spirited – setting people against each other
  9. They rarely show thanks or appreciation
  10. They avoid doing the work and look for the easiest option.