What Makes for an Unsuccessful Leader?

Not everyone is cut out to lead, and even those who are born leaders can have a lot to work on and improve. Many managers, directors and other types of leaders can end up leading their team or company to disaster and mishap, as opposed to progressing and advancing the team. This can result in disappointing your team and disserving the business or organization you belong to.  Failing leaderships can come down to a number of different causes and there are various things you can do in order to improve your leadership quality.

Complacency and a lack of growth

When all is going well and the company appears to be moving in the right direction, leaders often get too confident and content with where everything is, which could mean that projects, progress and individuals are no longer monitored or checked up on. As a leader, it is your job to guide the company and make sure that everyone is up to date and doing their job to the best of their ability. By not monitoring progress, it may allow others to get complacent themselves or simply confused about what they are supposed to be doing. Be sure to review individuals and progress regularly in order to ensure that everything is right on track.

Sometimes leaders may simply refuse to adapt and grow. Your own leadership methods will naturally change along with the alterations of your business and it is important to keep up with where you need to head as your leadership style may no longer be effective.  


Leaders have responsibilities and sometimes may forget their role in supporting and guiding the team, focusing solely on themselves and their own advancements and profits. This type of person is usually more interested in gaining control and seeks power over others. A leader should be able to want others to improve as well as giving advice and mentoring the team. Feedback in particular is an important part in making your team effective.

Arrogance can also be a main factor, as both the best and worst of leaders can think that they know everything which can more often than not lead to deterioration. Improvement and better decisions can be made by listening to the advice of others. Others may oppose your ideas and choosing not to ignore others can make things better for everything, reaching compromise.


Successful leaders are able to assign tasks to their employees confidently in order to keep employees busy and challenged. However this doesn’t always happen. Many leaders start doing the work they are ideally supposed to be handing out to workers, resulting in leaders hurting themselves as well as taking away the opportunity for the company. This will cause stress and work overload for management and boredom for employees. 

Too much criticism/Lack of criticism

No matter how enthusiastic you are about your job or how friendly you are about it, giving too much criticism can often weigh people down and make them feel as though they aren’t doing well enough – causing them to lose motivation. Alternatively, leaving people to their own devices and not letting them know what they are doing right and wrong can be catastrophic. There needs to be a balance between trusting people to do a good job and giving employees the feedback they need to be even better.

Be aware of yourself

Many leaders surprisingly don’t understand what it means to be a leader. To be a great leader, you need to know yourself and be familiar with your strengths and weaknesses – working on each to constantly improve. You should also be aware of your goals and expectations for yourself as well as your company/organization. It is important to remember why you became a leader.

Leaders don’t always communicate well, which is bad if you are leading a successful team. A lack of good communication can cause so many problems without you even realizing. Speak to co-workers about any problems that arise and search for a solution. You can also make use of instant messaging and video chat to communicate with those who are harder to reach.

Low self-esteem and low self-confidence can also be a factor in bad leadership as this can affect your confidence in leading, as well as illnesses such as depression and anxiety.

Author Bio

Laura Morrissey is an invited contributor at "Skills 2 Lead" and she is a digital content editor at Disc Assessment. She is a native of Liverpool and loves to share tips for both leaders and managers to enhance their skills for working to the best of their ability. Her specialist areas are leadership and team building. You can get in touch with her on LinkedIn.

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