There is a lot of information out there about ideal leadership qualities, but talking about leadership traits to avoid is important, too.
Have you ever had a toxic manager? Someone who poisoned the workspace with their negativity or domineering attitude? It’s not uncommon, and as much as we talk about all the qualities of a good leader, it’s important to understand and acknowledge the negative leadership traits that should be avoided at all costs.
After all, an ostrich doesn’t really survive by burying his head in the sand, and neither should leaders who want to succeed!
5 Leadership Traits to Avoid
1. Talk the talk but don’t walk the walk
A leader who can talk a good game about attitude and work tasks but then does the very opposite in action is a leader who won’t be trusted by his or her team.
Taking personal responsibility for one’s own actions and modeling the behavior you expect to see from others are essential to gain and keep trust and loyalty. Creating a culture of trust, fairness and good work being noticed is what makes a difference.
2. Conflict resolution, ostrich style
A leader who can’t deal with conflict is not leading.
In the hopes that a problem will simply go away, a bad leader will miscommunicate their feelings or intentions, being purposely vague and leaving everyone in the dark as to what they really want and how they want to deal with the issue.
But like a throbbing tooth, problems and conflict in the workplace don’t usually ‘self-resolve’. Team members are looking for their leader to deal with it, or pull the tooth, as it were. Hiding behind a closed door and ignoring the problem will not make it go away.
3. Communication is a one-way street
A leader who is forever pontificating on one topic or another, without censoring their words, and is not open to input from team members, is a concern.
This kind of ‘leader’ will typically surround themselves with sycophantic ‘yes-people’ who will in no way challenge their authority. As if having an opinion in a team environment was a threat! This is a leader who exerts control in many ways and one of them is to control the ‘conversation’ so it isn’t based on two-way communication.
4. Learning is for sissies
A leader who is closed to learning and self-growth can’t lead.
Admitting flaws, faults and mistakes IS true leadership, not a sign of weakness. Acting like you have it all under control when the wheels have effectively just fallen off the bus? Not so much. A good leader can ask for help, even from subordinates and still have confidence in themselves.
5. It’s all about ego
A leader who doesn’t have the greatest self-esteem, which is usually accompanied by an ego the size of Texas, can’t be a great leader.
Sometimes it’s not entirely their fault: by a series of strange events, they find themselves in a role that they can’t cope with but don’t want to admit that to anyone.
Ultimately, a person who is working with ego isn’t thinking about the good of the team or the greater good of the organization as a whole: they’re thinking about themselves and how the decisions will affect them.
It’s not an accident that performing companies have excellent leadership. One follows from the other, like flowers from well-maintained earth.
Leadership isn’t innate: you can be taught to be a great leader, you can learn the skills you need. Equally important, however, is to learn what traits that will bring you, and your organization, down.