The 10 Worst Leaders - The Ones That Make You Want to Scream

June 26, 2015 Vince Molinaro

So much of what’s written in the leadership space is focused on stories of exemplary or great leadership.  That’s good, because in reality our day to day experience is filled with lots of bad leadership and stupid leaders.  Here’s my top ten list of the kinds of leaders that really bug me.  Just a caution before you read on, you might see yourself in this list.

1. Incompetent leaders: Leaders who continue to be leaders even when they are awful at it. They make bonehead decisions, leave a trail of disasters. They simply don’t have the right instincts for leadership. The worst ones are those who are inept but think they are great. 

Advice: Please leave – you aren’t adding any value.

2. Wimpy leaders: Leaders who don’t have the courage or the stomach for the role. The ones who always take the easy way out, don’t do the difficult things. They are wishy-washy. Don’t take a stand and don’t have a backbone.  

Advice: Grow a backbone.

3. Lazy leaders: Leaders who think that their job is to get everyone else to do absolutely everything and don’t work hard themselves. Leaders who have two sets of standards, one for themselves and the other for everyone else. Their famous line is: “don’t do as I do, do as I say”. 

Advice:  Do something, anything!

4. Infantile leaders: Leaders who are adults but act as children. They have the emotional maturity of a two-year old, so when they don’t get their way they have a temper tantrum. Fine when you're 18 months old, not fine when you are running a company. 

Advice: Grow  Up!

5. Selfish leaders: Leaders who are only in it for themselves, taking as much as they can along the way. They have a huge sense of entitlement. They don’t seem to care about the company they lead, the employees or customers. All they seem to worry about is their next company car, bonuses, stock options, and the perks. It’s all me, me, me – 24/7! Thanks for the financial crisis guys. 

Advice: Enough already – How many houses and cars do you really need?

6. Insecure leaders: Leaders who lack confidence for the job and this drives everything about who they are and what they do. They don’t trust others. They hire weak talent. They are the control freaks in our lives. They play mind games with their employees.  I’m not sure what happened in your life, but you’re causing havoc in your company. 

Advice: Get therapy. 

7. Egomaniac leaders: Leaders who think they are the center of the universe. Everything revolves around them. Their ideas are the only good ones. They act as if everyone else is there to serve them. 

Advice: Stop with the posturing & grandstanding – you aren’t fooling anyone.

8. Abusive leaders:  Leaders who regularly and routinely mistreat, disrespect and insult others. They frequently “tear a strip” off their direct reports – often in public. What’s your problem, man? 

Advice: Your day will come. In the meantime, take an anger management program.

9. Good news leaders: Leaders who only like hearing good news - they prefer spin to reality. Choosing to be in a state of delusion, rather than confronting what’s really going on.  Those who present bad news, get their heads cut off. So everyone tells them want they want to hear (or not) rather than the brutal facts. 

Advice:  Get a dose of reality – for once!

10. Please like me leaders: These leaders desperately want to be liked by everyone they work with.  They want to be your best friend, in a eerie sort of way.  They agree with everyone and everything. They avoid conflict or any confrontation.  

Advice: High school was over decades ago – time to join the real world.

About the Author

Vince Molinaro

Vince Molinaro is the Global Managing Director of Strategic Solutions at Lee Hecht Harrison. He is also the author of The Leadership Contract – a New York Times and USA Today bestseller. Vince has spent more than 20 years as an adviser to boards and senior executives looking to improve leadership in their organizations.

Follow on Twitter More Content by Vince Molinaro
Previous Article
Gut Check: Are You A Hypocrite?
Gut Check: Are You A Hypocrite?

Why has Taylor Swift been getting all this acclaim? She seems to have the courage to fight big corporations...

Next Article
Gut Check: Can You Admit When It’s Time To Step Aside?
Gut Check: Can You Admit When It’s Time To Step Aside?

When you track the ups and downs of business leaders, you’re more likely to see leaders hanging at all cost...