12 Signs They Are Not A Good Leader

Most of us have worked for leaders that are for all intents and purposes were not very good.  I have worked with and for both great leaders and those not very good leaders.

To be honest, I actually learned a lot in my early days of leadership from some really bad leaders.  Not only were they bad leaders, they were oblivious to the negative affects of their poor leadership.   There are many signs that a leader is not a good leader and below are 12 Obvious Signs.

The reason I attribute these signs to not being a “Good Leader” instead of “Great Leader,” is due to the fact that a leader usually goes through the progression of being a “Good Leader” before they can become a “Great Leader.”

12 Signs They Are Not A Good Leader: (They could be you!)

  • 1. they are not willing to fail.
  • 2. they only talk and never listen.
  • 3. they don’t develop and produce other leaders.
  • 4. they micro-manage.
  • 5. they are generally insecure or threatened by those they lead.
  • 6. they are not willing to follow and learn from their subordinates.
  • 7. they are more focused on what people think about the results, than the results themselves.
  • 8. they don’t have a genuine care and concern for those they lead.
  • 9. they put policy over people, no matter the situation or circumstance.
  • 10. they are willing to make the wrong decision, for fear of fall-out from making the right decision.
  • 11. they take all of the credit and none of the blame.
  • 12. they only dream about being like so and so, instead of dreaming about becoming who God uniquely created them to be.

Share your thoughts on any of these “12 Signs.” What have been your experiences and struggles with any of the items on the list.   Feel free to add to the list.

  • This is an interesting list, but to me the question is, “Ok, so then what?” What do you do if you have someone in a leadership position who fits one – or several – of these?

    • Scott Williams

      There are many ways to lead up, encourage and lead by example. Realize the situation that you are in. Knowing the situation is key!

      • I’d like to see the followup to this one…with suggested ways we employees and deal with difficult personalities! Thanks, Scott!

  • Thanks Scott. Disappointed not to see things like “they preach false doctrine” or “build their organization instead of the Kingdom”. Why would anything to do with God be relegated to the bottom of the list? Is that a different list maybe? Love to see that one too.

    • Scott Williams

      The list wasn’t specifically for churches… I never look at the last thing on the list to be negative. It’s the last thing that people read, often times the most memorable and the final nugget takeaway. God is definitely #1 for me, whether or not I put it on a list that way. 🙂

  • Jim

    Thanks for this list and I think I have worked with people of every number. I have found that there is an idea out there that a good leader = [blank]. Somewhere there is a giant cookie cutter making new, identical leaders. So if you fit the mold then you are a good leader, if not, you must not be.

    #12 is vitally important to understand that our perception of a good leader is not necessarily who God calls to be leaders.

    Thanks again for the post.

    • Scott Williams

      Very well said… definitely different traits for good leaders, but definitely some commonalities.

  • I’m a young leader, but I can sympathize with learning from bad leaders. I’ve been able to do that in the past. Thankful for a great one now to learn from!

    • Scott Williams

      Love learning from the good and bad.

  • Your list is great, leading by example is huge, after all they would be leading us right?
    I really like “they are not willing to follow and learn from their subordinates”, this is a huge indication of pride or arrogance developing in a leader.

    • Scott Williams

      love learning from those I lead… some of my best learnings

  • I think your parenthetical comment is the most important part of the post:

    (They could be you!)

    I started reading it and evaluating others, when I suddenly realized it is far more important for me to evaluate myself. While, yes, I should be concerned if those around me are leading poorly, I should be most concerned about whether or not I am.

    • Great point Will, self improvement and evaluation is key.

    • Scott Williams

      looking in the mirror is always good for all of us.

  • Today I am encouraged Scott, that by the list you have given us I am not a bad leader. I wonder should I tell the church. LOL.

    • Scott Williams


  • Scott one of the things I have learned is how important is for the people you work with not only seeing you lead, but seeing you willing to roll up your sleeves and actually working and not just delegating.

    • Scott Williams

      leading by example sometimes means doing exactly that…

    • Shaking my head…a million “straw bosses” barking orders…bad for morale.

  • johnson woan

    Wow! Really nice!

    I like the one that says “6. they are not willing to follow and learn from their subordinates.”

    Thanks mate!

  • Excellent reasons behind failure; I really agree that good listener and learning from failures are prominent features of a leader.
    data recovery program

  • Oh boy…..(sigh). Won’t comment any further. 

  • Tajuankyles

    As you mentioned, Ive worked under both types. I thought some great points were brought up and as a leader, I was personally reminded to NOT be afraid to fail. Wow.

  • Yasmina

    I would say this list is pretty acurate.

  • TheRealHousewifeOfPGCounty

    Wow, excellent list. If I may add a few others, please allow. I think of a leader as one who facilitates. Also, a “leader” does not always have the title of a leader. He/she may just be the one who most possesses the quality needed to fill out a group. If an individual is the most creative or patient or knowledgeable in a subject, he/she may need to demonstrate those qualities in a very humble manner for the rest of the group–be the change you want to see. Fabulous list and wonderful that you’re obvious interested in being a great leader and not just average. .

    • Someone once told me, “It takes a Leader to know when to step aside and let someone else lead.”

  • Bill

    This is excellent. If you have a multiple staff church it is important that they know where they stand with you as a leader. It instills confidence and good morale. The opposite of that is never affirming your people that they are on the right track. Being firm when they are not on the right track.

  • The Bible says one must learn submission to authority before one can lead. Moreover, its our own defense mechanisms (I call it Fake-Einstein in the book) that block our God-given purpose, which short circuits our Destiny. It’s the human condition not to be aware of these roadblocks because we block any contradictions to it.

    These are the 2 on the list that stood out for me. They were are Spot-On:

    8. they don’t have a genuine care and concern for those they lead.
    9. they put policy over people, no matter the situation or circumstance.

    Chasing their professional tails and Clueless at the Helm! Leaving devastation in their wake and wondering what went wrong – blaming anybody else! You can’t conjure up caring where it isn’t. It’s been my observation that their personal lives are reflective of their professional lives.

    Thanks for this opportunity to respond to this very well written and knowledgeable post!

Designed by EightDay Studio. Powered by the Standard Theme. Developed by Milk Engine.