How to Best Survive A Bad Leader

If you’re among the many people who find themselves working for a bad leader, take heart. Given a choice, no one would willingly put themselves in that situation. But, as with any circumstance that’s less than ideal, what you get out of it largely depends on what you put into it. And there are lessons you can learn and strengths you can build through the experience of working for a bad leader. If nothing else, they can serve as a negative example.

Here are some of the most common qualities of bad leaders, with pointers for each to help you deal with them—and maybe even turn them to your benefit:

Bad leaders avoid conflict. When conflict arises, a poor leader’s first impulse is get out of the way. They may hide behind an office door, bury themselves in busywork or just withdraw. When that happens, you have a choice. You can be the victim of their poor leadership or you can show up and lead by example, helping the involved parties work out a resolution.

Bad leaders are self-centered. Leaders who are self-centered tend to isolate themselves and disconnect from the team They’re often unwilling to delegate, because they don’t trust anyone else to get the job done up to standards. If your team’s been left to founder by a self-centered leader, demonstrate your own effective leadership. Think of yourself as an orchestra conductor, harmonizing the efforts of every team member to create something significant and beautiful. People will be grateful to you for stepping up.

Bad leaders don’t hold themselves accountable. A poor leader will cast blame or make excuses when things aren’t working as they should. Show people a contrasting style by being consistent in taking responsibility for your own actions and encouraging others to do the same. Work to build a reputation as an accountable leader who makes decisions that balance the interests of all stakeholders.

Bad leaders are untrusting and untrustworthy. A recent study found that 45 percent of people consider a lack of trust in leadership to be the biggest issue limiting their success. It’s hard to expect people to succeed when they don’t have a relationship of trust with their leader. If you’re part of a team with a desperate need for trust, make a point of working to build that trust with your colleagues.

Bad leaders are lacking in character. Bottom line: a leader needs character and integrity. It’s not good enough to be smart or affable or persuasive or charismatic. Anyone who lacks character is incapable of truly leading others. Step up and make sure everyone around you can see in you what character and integrity look like.

In every challenge, even the most frustrating, you have an opportunity to endure and to sustain yourself and your teammates with your own form of leadership. Work to be the change you want to see in your organization.

Lead from within: Bad leadership does exist, but it affords you an opportunity to showcase good leadership as an alternative.


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The Leadership Gap
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR,, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

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