8 Signs of bad leadership – how leaders adversely impact upon the culture of their teams

good leadership vs bad leadership

Leaders rarely truly reflect on how their leadership impacts on the culture of their teams. Good leadership transforms team culture, bad leadership damages people and teams. Being aware of how leaders affect their teams culture enables personal change to occur. Observations and feedback I have collected from leaders and managers suggest common causes are:

1. Poorly set objectives

Objectives provide focus and align employee work to organisational goals. Within a bad leadership style, objectives are poorly set and managed by leaders.

Poor clarity and lack of direction impacts on employee motivation and performance. Locke’s theory suggests that clear goals are critical to performance and commitment.

2. A ‘performance at any cost’ mindset

A ‘performance at any cost’ mindset is the first sign of bad leadership.

But this brings out damaging behaviours and language from leaders. It produces a directive leadership style which disables rather than enables a high performing team culture.

3. Only seeing performance and behaviours

Leaders often focus on employee performance and behaviours because they see these elements they every day.

But employees are emotional beings, who make emotionally-based decisions. When leaders only focus on performance and behaviours, they are not seeing their employees as humans. This often leads to  employees being taken for granted.

Most leaders don’t really KNOW their employees sufficiently – do you?

4. Not engaging with employee development

Leaders often see development as simply signing off on courses, or something for L&D to deal with.

Setting learning objectives, coaching through training, as well as supporting and ensuring application of learning is part of a leader’s role. When leaders divorce themselves from the development process, this leads to reduced employee engagement and disillusion in the leader’s attitude.

5. Being a one trick leadership pony

Leaders can often have a single directive leadership style, which they apply to every scenario.

However, this is only useful for limited situations and a narrow range of people. It is therefore usually considered a bad leadership style. This style is demotivating for the majority of employees and it lacks the inclusiveness that a coaching style can bring.

6. Leaders own Agenda

Bad leadership focuses on the objectives and needs of only the leader, excluding employees and their needs.

However, coaching feedback suggests that the most important thing a leader can give employees is their time. Good leaders spend quality time on areas of concern to employees.

The most important thing leaders can give to their employees is time.

Not giving this time creates resentment, frustration and poor perceptions of the leader.

7. The ‘F- word’

Bad leadership occurs when feedback is infrequently provided to employees, or only ‘constructive criticism’ is given.

However, feedback is simply information on performance. The more information employees have, the better they can perform. Withholding this information demoralises employees and reduces their effectiveness.

8. Too much problem solving

Poor leaders often spend too much time trying to fix problems. This often disempowers employees whose expertise they recruited in the first place.

Coaching enables employees to solve their own problems, allowing leaders to take a step back from this ‘fire-fighting’ mentality.

Need more advice on how to avoid bad leadership styles?

Leaders create the cultures they want, or they get the cultures they deserve. They have a choice. That choice has a significant impact on people and teams. Through training and coaching, leaders can transform their own performance and also their teams.

If you want to create the culture you and your team deserve, contact Abintus today.

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