In an age where everything is stored digitally, I have this habit of saving good articles by cutting and pasting them into a paper notebook.
While flipping through the pages, I recently came across one of those cut-out articles – The Worst Leaders, published by Harvard Business Review (HBR) in 2009. There are thousands of articles and books on good leadership, but few talk about the characteristics of worst leadership.
At some point in our lives, we have worked for great leaders and have had the opportunity to experience the respected qualities that come with strong leadership. Other times, we face the misfortune of having to work for not-so-good leaders, yet there is ample room to learn from those experiences as well.
Here are the top 10 traits of worst leaders according to HBR and keeping an eye on these blind spots helps to improve one’s leadership:
- Lack of Energy and Enthusiasm – these are the leaders who avoid new initiatives and they can suck all the energy out of any room
- Accept their own mediocre performance – these are the leaders who seem to be ok with average level of performance
- Lack clear vision and direction – they believe their only job is to execute
- Have poor judgment – they make decisions that colleagues and subordinates consider to be not in the organizations best interests
- Don’t collaborate – they view other leaders as competitors and they are set adrift by the very people whose insights and support they need
- Don’t walk the talk – they set standards of behavior or expectation of performance and then they violate them
- Resist new ideas – they reject suggestion from subordinates and peers. Good ideas are not implemented
- Don’t learn from mistakes – they fail to use setbacks as opportunities for improvement, hiding their errors
- Lack of interpersonal skills – they are either too abrasive or aloof and unavailable
- Fail to develop others – they do not develop new leaders causing individuals and teams to disengage
Realistically, one can’t expect to excel in all aspects of good leadership in its entirety. Keeping an eye on a handful of leadership traits, which are part of your core leadership style, and improving on others is a good balance to have.
You can’t create greater followers under poor leadership.