The Toxic Habits That Will Make You a Bad Leader

We all have things we need to work on. Maybe you catch yourself zoning out in meetings, or taking on work that you should be delegating. It’s important to pay attention to those areas and keep them under control. But some habits are worse than others. Here are six of the most destructive—tendencies that, left unchecked, will definitely undermine your authority as a leader and will cause your team to lose faith in you.

Playing favorites. Leadership is about building teamwork and collaboration. When the leader has obvious favorites, it creates an unhealthy culture and negativity. It’s human nature to like some people more than others, and every team has top performers, but it’s critical that you treat everyone fairly and keep the playing field level.

Getting into the weeds where you don’t belong. If you’re constantly breathing down the necks of your people, and concerning yourself with the details of everyone’s work, you’re undermining their abilities and growth. Employees want autonomy, and they don’t want you micromanaging them every minute of the day. Hold people accountable for their work, but remember that micromanagement signals a lack of respect.

Showcasing your insecurities. Even the best and most successful leaders are subject to bouts of insecurity. But a leader who frequently expresses uncertainty and insecurity has a negative effect on the team. Work to resolve any serious self-esteem issues before they harm your career and those around you.

Complaining about what’s going wrong. No matter how much you feel like venting about all the things going awry. a leader should never complain. People are looking to you to set a tone, and constant complaining is both contagious and overwhelmingly negative. Whatever’s going on, focus on solutions.

Rejecting feedback. A big part of leadership is listening to others and working to understand their perspective, but some leaders emphasize their own ideas at the expense of what anyone else might think or feel. A continued unwillingness to listen to concerns of those you lead can lead to conflicts and problems.

Leaders should hold themselves to a higher standard since they are responsible not only for themselves but also for the people they work with. Sadly, too many leaders focus on personal power and self-serving goals. This misuse of leadership will trickle down into their organization, causing distress, betrayal, frustration and anger, and eventually leading to an unsuccessful culture and working environment.

Lead from within: Bad leadership alienates others, but good leadership empowers them. If you find yourself practicing any toxic habits, stop them immediately—not only for the sake of your own leadership but for the benefit of those you lead.



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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.

  1. Derek Harris

    30. Oct, 2019

    These toxic habits can damage all relationships, whether business or personal.

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