The Top 10 Toxic Behaviors Of Lousy Leaders

toxic behaviors of lousy leaders

You know a toxic boss the moment you see them. But what makes a leader toxic? Well, there are a number of factors at work here. Although it can be a bit difficult to point out what exactly makes a leader bad, there are certain common characteristics that all lousy leaders share.

“Most leaders don’t need to learn what to do. They need to learn what to stop.” – Peter Drucker

Here Are The Top 10 Toxic Behaviors Of Lousy Leaders

1. Neglecting relationships.

A short conversation about someone’s family while getting coffee isn’t a waste of time. If you want great results, build strong relationships.

2. Tolerating bad apples.

Time makes bad apples rot. They don’t ripen with time. Your team is waiting for you to reassign, retrain, or remove people who don’t fit or don’t contribute.

3. Avoiding tough conversations.

Bad gets worse when you avoid it. Try saying, “I noticed…,” when the topic is uncomfortable. Describe it. Don’t judge it.

Related: Top 10 Bad Leadership Behaviors That Destroy Organisations

4. Making feedback conversations personal.

Don’t criticize someone’s character. Describe behavior and impact. “When you (behavior) the team (impact).”

5. Spending too much time focused on problems.

Fixing is a backward-facing activity. It’s necessary to fix problems, but the future is built by seizing opportunities.

6. Never apologizing.

“I was wrong,” builds more trust than self-justification or excuses.

7. Failing to see the good side of bad qualities.

The things that irritate you about others may reveal strengths. A slow decision-maker may be great with details.

8. Hiding behind weaknesses and faults.

“That’s just the way I am,” is a leader’s way of saying get used to me interrupting you, for example. The other sentence to listen for is, “I’m just not good at that.”

9. Listening too little and talking too much.

Listening saves time. Stop answering questions that aren’t being asked. Bloviating leaders suck the life out of teams. Jumping to conclusions diminishes others.

Related: 9 Types of Toxic People That Will Rob You Of Your Happiness

10. Listening with a critical fault-finding attitude.

Explore other people’s imperfect ideas. Most people don’t need to get their way. They just need to be heard.


1. Hoarding good jobs and delegating crap assignments.

2. Defining yourself by your successes and others by their failures.

3. Believing success is transferable.

4. Neglecting culture.

What’s on your top ten toxic behavior list?

This post was previously published on Leadership Freak and is republished here with a Creative Commons license.

Written By Dan Rockwell
Originally Appeared On Leadership Freak
10 Highly Toxic Traits Of Awful Leaders
10 Highly Toxic Traits Of Awful Leaders
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The Top 10 Toxic Behaviors Of Lousy Leaders
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