The Cost of Bad Leadership

Updated Over a Week Ago


Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Leadership is the ability of an individual to influence people to move in the direction he specifies to achieve set objectives. The objectives must be for the general good of his organization or company. What is good for the company will, by extension, be good for the members of the organization.

A leader is a man at the helm of affairs or the man who calls the shots in the organization. A leader can be good or bad. A good leader has a vision of where he wants to take his company. He realizes that he would need the trust and support of his followers or subordinates to succeed. So he makes them buy into his vision. With all hands on deck, they would succeed and the company will grow in the process.

The bad leader may also be the man that calls the shot in his organization. He may not have a clear vision of where he wants to take the company. His vision may not have been properly communicated to his followers to enable them give their support for the attainment of set objectives.


Bad leadership can be detected in any organization and when that is done efforts can be geared toward resolving it. Hereunder are some signs of bad leadership.

(1) Lack of Vision: A non-visionary leader cannot motivate and lead his followers. There is nothing concrete that the people can identify and commit themselves to for the interest of their organization.

(2) All-Knowing: When a leader professes to be all-knowing there is danger in the organization. Such a leader would suppress the innovations and contributions of his followers. He would own all their contributions when they are allowed. Chances are that he would become impervious to other people’s good ideas.

(3) Self-Centeredness: This is a situation where a leader is only interested in his interests. This type of leader would repulse ideas that may be of interest to the organization and its subordinates.

(4) Lack of Communication: A good vision must be properly communicated to the members of the organization by the leader. Bad leaders lack the skills of communicating their plans and objectives to their followers. Some who see themselves as bosses use the authoritarian approach instead of the authoritative approach in communicating to their followers.

(5) Lack of Knowledge: The lack of in-depth knowledge in the area of one’s leadership can generate bad leadership. Lack of Knowledge could lower a person’s confidence and self-esteem. It will also lower the respect of his subordinates and their expectations of him. His decisions would be fraught with errors that would be detrimental to the company. Such leaders see smart and hardworking employees as threats and so resist them. They will apply Machiavellian tactics for their survival.

(6) Failure to produce other Leaders: A bad leader makes himself indispensable thus making it difficult for others to develop and take over.


While good leadership has positive effects on an organization, bad leadership has negative and destructive effects on the survival of an organization. Bad leadership can affect a company in the following ways:

(1) Low morale: When employees notice bad leadership and they know that decisions taken by the bad leader are not in the interest of the company they may begin to exhibit low morale. They will not feel motivated to perform their tasks.

(2) Employee turnover: When employees notice that they are not respected, their inputs are not accepted, the leader displays an all-knowing character and their work environment has become hostile due to the actions of their leader some employees would consider changing jobs. Talented and experienced employees would be the first to hit the exit door. The company will suffer if the trend is not checked.

(3) Fall in productivity: Low morale and employee turnover will lead to poor performance by employees and this, in turn, will lead to a drop in sales and profit. When profits plummet there is a danger over the long-term survival of the company.

(4) Public perception: When bad leadership in a company becomes public knowledge the perception of the company by the public will drop. It would be difficult for a company in distress to attract talented people for employment.


The leaders who are engrossed in bad leadership according to some people can change their leadership traits or styles. The leader must first understand that he is and is viewed as a bad leader. He must independently decide to become a good leader by doing the following:

Ø He could do a 360o feedback to know from his subordinates, peers and superior officers what habits or traits in him need to be changed or improved upon.

Ø Realizing where he is lacking or deficient, determined efforts must be made to address them. He could get outside help from coaches, mentors or psychologists if need be.

Ø One fast and sure way is to address his communication method. He should be more open to his employees or followers and make them know that he has changed or willing to change. He should be courageous enough to apologize to all those he had hurt and ask for their support and encouragement in his rehab efforts.

At the company level, the Board can change the leader if sales continue to slide, employee morale is tanking, and employee turnover is high. Their action will be to sack the bad leader in order to save the company. No leader should be made to believe that he or she is indispensable.


Bad leadership can be found in many organizations and companies. They occur in varying forms and degrees. If undetected it could cause so much damage to the organization. Companies should be inward-looking to be able to detect incidents of bad leadership and take appropriate steps to eliminate them. Managers should be made to attend leadership courses so they can be exposed to leadership traits and how they can hone them so that they can become better leaders. The cost of bad leadership to organizations or companies is high and should never be overlooked by management.

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Ron Whitaker
Ron Whitaker
Ron is an accomplished entrepreneur involved in developing multiple businesses from the ground up. He is the co-founder of About Leaders, an author, a start-up consultant, and investor. Follow him on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
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