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bad leadership quotes


201 Bad Leadership Quotes: Shedding Light on the Dark Side of Leadership

Leadership is a double-edged sword.

While effective leadership has the power to inspire, motivate, and propel organizations to new heights, bad leadership can wreak havoc, leading to demotivated teams, stagnant growth, and even the downfall of once-thriving companies.

There’s an epidemic of poor leadership in organisations, and it damages both the organisation and the people in it.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared occupational stress a global epidemic because of the negative economic, health and social outcomes.

And research shows that poor leadership is to blame. 

In his book, ‘Overcoming Bad Leadership in Organizations’ Derek Lusk explains that leadership impacts morale, individual stress levels as well as organizational results.

“Dysfunctional leadership can perpetuate the misery of thousands of people by being the primary source of low morale, disengagement, enduring stress, stress-associated health problems, and poor organizational results.”

Derek Lusk

In this blog post, I dive headfirst into the treacherous world of leadership gone wrong, shedding light on the dark side through a collection of 201 bad leadership quotes.

These quotes serve as powerful reminders that leadership isn’t solely about titles and positions – it’s about the impact you have on those you lead.

Each quote, carefully selected from a wide range of sources, exposes the pitfalls, missteps, and failures that can plague leaders across industries and organizations.

By exploring these 201 bad leadership quotes, you’ll uncover the patterns and behaviors that lead to poor leadership.

I invite you to reflect on your own experiences and behaviours as you read through these quotes, drawing parallels between the quotes and the real-world situations you’ve encountered.

11 Mistakes to Watch Out For

To help you with this reflection, I’ve created a guide, 11 Mistakes to Watch Out For (Even if You Think You’re a Good Leader).

It’s designed to raise self-awareness about aspects of your personality that will facilitate your success and those that will cause career derailment.

Be sure to get your copy even if you think you’re a good leader.

Of the 1000’s of leaders I’ve worked with over the years, there isn’t a single one who hasn’t had at least one of these derailers.

Once you know yours, you can start to address it. Ignorance is not bliss.

Get your copy of the guide for free here.

What is Bad Leadership?

In ‘How Bad Leaders Impact Organizational Effectiveness’ Ricky Griffin explains that bad leadership takes two distinct forms – toxic and ineffectual.

You’ll see these mentioned throughout the quotes about bad leadership below, so here’s some definitions so we’re clear what we’re talking about:

Bad Leadership Definition

Bad leadership refers to the negative impact caused by individuals in positions of authority or influence in an organization. It has two distinct forms: toxic leadership and ineffectual leadership.

Toxic Leadership Definition

Toxic leadership refers to a destructive and harmful style of leadership that leaves a trail of negativity in its wake. It’s characterized by abusive behavior, manipulation, intimidation, and the misuse of power. Toxic leaders tend to prioritize their own interests over the well-being of their team, often fostering a hostile work environment.

Ineffectual Leadership Definition

On the other hand, ineffectual leadership is a lack of competence, direction, and impact in leadership roles. Ineffectual leaders may display a lack of vision, poor decision-making abilities, and an inability to inspire and motivate their team. They may struggle with communication, fail to provide guidance, and exhibit a general lack of leadership skills.

Both toxic and ineffectual leadership have detrimental effects on individuals, teams, and organizations as a whole. They impede growth, foster discontentment, and create an environment where success becomes elusive.

Recognizing and addressing these forms of bad leadership is crucial for cultivating a healthy and productive work culture, enabling individuals to thrive and organizations to reach their full potential.

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bad leadership quotes

Characteristics of Bad Leadership

You’ll see as we go through the list of bad leadership quotes that ‘bad leadership’ comes in many shapes and forms.

That said, there’s certain clusters of traits and characteristics that research has shown increases the chances of you derailing your career as a leader.

I break these down in the guide, 11 Mistakes to Watch Out For (Even if You Think You’re a Good Leader) which I mentioned above. If you haven’t got your copy yet, you can download it here.

Unmasking the Dark Side: 201 Bad Leadership Quotes

So, here’s my list of the best quotes about poor, ineffectual and outright toxic leadership. Here’s what you want to avoid:

“Leaders with toxic behaviors thrive on controlling people instead of inspiring them”

>> Simon Sinek

“Bad leaders believe their team works for them. Great leaders believe they work for their team”

>> Alexander den Heijer

“In toxic workplaces, employees become overly focused on pleasing the boss instead of working together as a team”

>> Gary Rush

“Leadership is about solving problems. The day employees stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or conclude you do not care. Either case is a failure on leadership”

>> Colin Powell

“Toxic leaders focus more on maintaining order than inspiring creativity”

>> Adam Grant

“The most serious failure of leadership is the failure to foresee”

>> Robert K. Greenleaf

“You can always recognize toxic leadership when team members feel disempowered or left out of decision-making processes”

>> Dr Travis Bradberry

“A toxic leader will often resort to belittling, intimidating, or berating people in order to get what they want”

>> Stephen R Covey

 “Leaders with toxic behaviors focus more on themselves than developing the skills of their team members”

>> Simon Sinek

“A leader must be able to identify when their own ego has become toxic”

>> Adam Grant

bad leadership quotes

“Leaders with toxic personalities rarely if ever listen to the advice or opinions of those around them”

>> Sharon Salzberg

“The most toxic behavior in a leader is when they act without integrity just so they can appear strong and powerful”

>> John C Maxwell

“Bad bosses refuse feedback from employees, believing that they know what’s best for everyone”

>> Gary Rush

“The most toxic behavior in a leader is when they manipulate circumstances to get what they want without considering the consequences”

>> John C Maxwell

“A toxic leader will often try to control the narrative by withholding information or censoring what others say”

>> Stephen R Covey

“Bad leaders prioritize their own needs over those of the team”

>> Adam Grant

“Toxic leaders will often allow toxic behavior to go unchecked, creating an unhealthy work environment”

>> Ken Blanchard

“A strong secure leader accepts blame and gives credit. A weak insecure leader gives blame and takes credit”

>> John Wooden

“Leaders with toxic personalities create an atmosphere where everyone around them feels overwhelmed and helpless”

>> Adam Grant

“Bad leaders will often set unachievable goals and give little guidance as how to reach them”

>> Ken Blanchard

Poor Leadership Quotes i

“Say “no” to corruption; it does not fit you! Say “no” to bad leadership; you don’t fit there. Say “no” to immorality; it will only fake you! Be bold to say “no” if that is what will take your breakfast away; you will get a sweeter lunch pack for compensation sooner”

>> Israelmore Ayivor

“Leaders who foster toxic cultures are more concerned with power than positive results”

>> Gary Rush

“When someone uses threats, humiliation or intimidation of any kind as an attempt to control people, it’s toxic leadership”

>> Marshall Goldsmith

“The most toxic behavior in a leader is when they take credit for the work of their subordinates”

>> John C Maxwell

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power”

– Abraham Lincoln

“Bad bosses can create an atmosphere of distrust and insecurity among employees”

>> John C Maxwell

“The most toxic behavior in a leader is withholding information or feedback from their team”

>> Dr Travis Bradberry

“When someone tells lies or misrepresents facts to make themselves appear better, it’s toxic leadership”

>> Marshall Goldsmith

The bad leader is he who the people despise; the good leader is he who the people praise; the great leader is he who the people say, we did it ourselves”

>> Peter M. Senge

“Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say”

>> Andy Stanley

Poor Leadership Quotes #1

“Leaders with toxic behaviors often try to control their team rather than motivating them”

>> Simon Sinek                           

“Poor leaders will often use fear and intimidation tactics as a way of getting people to comply”

>> Ken Blanchard

“Bad leaders will attempt to control every detail regardless of how small it is”

>> Adam Grant

“Leaders with toxic personalities rarely credit team members for their successes and are quick to take the credit themselves”

>> Sharon Salzberg

“When someone attempts to manipulate others in order to achieve their own goals, it’s toxic leadership”

>> Marshall Goldsmith

“Leaders with toxic personalities are often so focused on results that they neglect the importance of relationships”

>> Sharon Salzberg

“Bad leaders often rely on guilt and shame to manipulate people”

>> Ken Blanchard

“Toxic leadership is defined by a lack of respect for human life, dignity or rights”

>> Max De Pree

Great leaders are willing to sacrifice the numbers to save the people. Poor leaders sacrifice the people to save the numbers”

>> Simon Sinek

“The most toxic behavior in a leader is when they expect others to comply without question even if it goes against their values”

>> John C Maxwell

Poor Leadership Quotes ii

“You can always recognize poor leadership when team members aren’t comfortable disagreeing with the leader or their decisions”

>> Dr Travis Bradberry                                                                  

“Nothing will kill a great employee faster than watching you tolerate a bad one.”

>> Perry Belcher

“Leaders with toxic behaviors are more concerned with power than positive results”

>> Simon Sinek

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”

>> George Bernard Shaw

“Toxic leaders prioritize their own interests over those of the team”

>> Marshall Goldsmith

“Don’t confuse actions of a ruler as the nature of his people”

>> Shon Mehta

To be effective you must not let your need to be right be more important than your need to find out what’s true. If you are too proud of what you know or of how good you are at something you will learn less, make inferior decisions, and fall short of your potential”

>> Ray Dalio

“Leadership that isn’t rooted in trust and respect is toxic”

>> Max De Pree

“You can build a throne with bayonets, but you can’t sit on it for long”

>> Boris Yeltsin

“Everyone dreams small when cautious leaders control decisions”

>> Gary Rush

Poor Leadership Quotes #2

“Toxic leadership causes organizations to fall apart from the inside out”

>> John C Maxwell

“You don’t lead by hitting people over the head—that’s assault, not leadership”

>> Dwight D. Eisenhower

“The most toxic behavior in a leader is when they refuse to listen to opposing viewpoints or feedback”

>> John C Maxwell

“When someone uses intimidation tactics to gain compliance from members at any level, it’s toxic leadership”

>> Marshall Goldsmith

“The most toxic thing one person can do to another is take credit for their work”

>> Brené Brown       

“Bad leaders will often belittle team members in order to make themselves appear superior”

>> Ken Blanchard

“A toxic leader will use criticism and blame to manipulate employees”

>> Gary Chapman

“Toxic bosses demand perfection from employees, often leading to burnout”

>> Gary Rush

“The most toxic behavior in a leader is when they are quick to judge or criticize without considering other perspectives”

>> John C Maxwell

“A bad leader will often make decisions without consulting their team”

>> Stephen R Covey

Poor Leadership Quotes #iii

“Leaders with toxic personalities are more interested in maintaining power than leading and inspiring others”

>> Adam Grant

“Toxic leaders will rarely offer praise or recognition for successful outcomes”

>> Ken Blanchard

“Leaders who foster toxic cultures focus on controlling people instead of empowering them”

>> Simon Sinek

“If you think you are leading and turn around to see no one following, then you are just taking a walk”

>> Benjamin Hooks

“Leadership at its worst creates fear; at best it inspires trust”

>> Barry Posner

“A toxic leader will use fear tactics in order to control those around them”

>> Stephen R Covey

“Poor bosses are more concerned about meeting deadlines than fostering positive relationships among the team”

>> Gary Rush

“Toxic leaders tend to think they know everything while dismissing others’ ideas as wrong”

>> Robert Sutton

“Never follow a follower who is following someone who has fallen. It’s why the whole world is falling apart”

>> Suzy Kassem

“Poor leaders will rarely take responsibility for their own mistakes and often blame others”

>> Ken Blanchard

Poor Leadership Quotes #3

“When someone abuses their power to bend laws or rules, it’s toxic leadership”

>> Marshall Goldsmith

“You can always recognize bad leadership when team members are fearful of speaking up or don’t feel comfortable voicing their opinion”

>> Dr Travis Bradberry

“Leaders with toxic personalities rarely take responsibility for their own words and actions, and instead put the blame on others”

>> Adam Grant

“Leaders with toxic personalities are quick to pass judgement without considering the consequences”

>> Sharon Salzberg

“A bad leader will frequently blame others for any mistakes or failures that occur, rarely taking responsibility themselves”

>> Stephen R Covey

“The most toxic thing one person can do to another is use them as a means to an end”

>> Brené Brown

“The biggest concern of an organization should be when their most passionate people become quiet.”

>> Tim McClure

“Toxic leadership stifles creativity and innovation”

>> Stephen R. Covey

“Overconfidence was risky in such a hostile environment, a mistake most often made by warriors who had never truly been tested”

>> Jocko Willink

“Bad bosses will stifle creativity and squash good ideas in favor of their own”

>> Gary Rush

Poor Leadership Quotes iv

“Leaders with toxic personalities create a toxic environment”

>> John C Maxwell

“One of the most deadly causes of destruction of divine destinies is when a leader is failing, but he or she does not know it. Ignorance about your role is a death plot against people’s successes”

>> Israelmore Ayivor

“The most toxic thing in any organization is when people feel their opinions don’t matter”

>> Jim Collins

“The leader’s attitude is like a thermostat for the place she works. If her attitude is good, the atmosphere is pleasant, and the environment is easy to work in. But if her attitude is bad, the temperature is insufferable”

>> John C. Maxwell

“Leaders with toxic behaviors operate from a place of fear and complete disregard for their employees’ well-being”

>> Simon Sinek

“A bad leader will try to control every aspect of the work environment”

>> Dr Travis Bradberry

“Scum just like cream settles at the top”

>> Unknown

“Leaders with toxic personalities create an unhealthy environment full of stress and anxiety”

>> Adam Grant

“Toxic leaders will often withhold necessary resources or information until it benefits them in some way”

>> Ken Blanchard

“Manipulative leaders lack integrity”

>> Stephen R Covey

Poor Leadership Quotes #4

“People don’t leave bad jobs; they leave bad bosses”

>> Unknown

“Leaders with toxic personalities don’t empower those around them; instead, they make all decisions themselves”

>> Sharon Salzberg

“More is lost in indecision than wrong decision. Indecision is the thief of opportunity. It will steal you blind”

>> Marcus Tullius Cicero

“A toxic leader will discourage openness by punishing those who speak up

>> Stephen R Covey

“Leaders with toxic personalities have a lack of empathy and disregard for the feelings of those around them”

>> Adam Grant

“Your actions are too loud. I cannot hear what you’re saying”

>> Unknown

“Leaders with toxic personalities often make decisions that aren’t in the best interest of their teams”

>> Marshall Goldsmith

“The art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes.”

>> Tony Blair

“Don’t let your ego get too close to your position so that if your position gets shot down, your ego doesn’t go with it”

>> Colin Powell

“Toxic leaders are more concerned with results than relationships”

>> Stephen R Covey

Poor Leadership Quotes v

“Always hear others out and remain open-minded; the day you think you know everything is the day you have the most yet to learn”

>> A.J. Darkholme

“Toxic leaders don’t listen to others and ignore alternate perspectives”

>> Adam Grant

“Good players can’t overcome bad coaching”

>> Unknown

“Ego clouds and disrupts everything”

>> Leif Babin

“In a toxic environment, no amount of success can make up for the lack of respect and appreciation you feel”

>> Dr Travis Bradberry

“A leader should demonstrate his thoughts and opinions through his actions, not through his words”

>> Jack Weatherford

“The most toxic behavior in a leader is failing to recognize the value of those around them”

>> John C Maxwell

“The power to lead is the power to mislead, and the power to mislead is the power to destroy”

>> Thomas S. Monson

“Toxic bosses are toxic because they want to control the outcomes and not empower those around them”

>> Stephen R Covey

“Leaders with toxic behaviors show signs of arrogance, self-importance, and narcissism”

>> Simon Sinek  

Poor Leadership Quotes N5

“You can always recognize toxic leadership when team morale becomes low and turnover increases”

>> Marshall Goldsmith

“Business leaders make one of two mistakes: overestimating or underestimating their capabilities”

>> Curtis L. Jenkins

“Toxic leadership creates an atmosphere where employees are constantly looking over their shoulders”

>> Gary Rush

“To build a strong team, you must see someone else’s strength as a complement to your weakness and not a threat to your position or authority”

>> Christine Caine

“Bad leaders don’t listen to their employees because it makes them feel insecure when they find that employees are smarter than they are”

>> Unknown

“The most toxic behavior in a leader is creating an atmosphere of fear”

>> John C Maxwell

“Failing organizations are usually over-managed and under-led”

>> Stephen Covey

“When someone attempts to control another person without reason, it’s toxic leadership”

>> Marshall Goldsmith

“Do you know great minds enjoy excellence, average minds love mediocrity and small minds adore comfort zones?”

>> Onyi Anyado

“A toxic leader will often use emotional manipulation and blackmail in order to get what they want”

>> Stephen R Covey

Poor Leadership Quotes vi

“You are either supporting the vision or supporting division”

>> Saji Ijiyemi

“A poor leader will often undermine others in order to gain favor or recognition”

>> Stephen R Covey

“Everyone deserves respect, regardless of your position on the ‘team.’ Toxic leadership does not understand this concept”

>> Ken Blanchard

“Believe in yourself. Under-confidence leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy that you are not good enough for your work”

>> Dr Roopleen

“Bad leaders are incapable of taking responsibility for their actions and decisions”

>> Ken Blanchard

“Leaders who use toxic behavior are often driven by fear and insecurity”

>> John C Maxwell

“A star wants to see himself rise to the top. A leader wants to see those around him rise to the top”

>> Simon Sinek

“Leaders with toxic personalities show favoritism and rarely, if ever, acknowledge the hard work of everyone around them”

>> Sharon Salzberg

“Toxic bosses prioritize short-term results over long-term performance gains”

>> Gary Rush

“Bad leaders care about who is right. Good leaders care about what is right”

>> John C Maxwell

Poor Leadership Quotes 6

“There are no bad teams, only bad leaders”

>> Leif Babin

“You can always recognize toxic leadership when self-interest trumps team success”

>> Marshall Goldsmith

“Leaders with toxic behaviors are too focused on selfish goals instead of looking at the bigger picture”

>> Simon Sinek

“The most toxic behavior in a leader is when they demand all the credit for successful outcomes”

>> John C Maxwell

“When someone attempts to bully others into submission, it’s toxic leadership”

>> Marshall Goldsmith

“A bad leader will become defensive when challenged or receives criticism from others”

>> Adam Grant

“Don’t blow off another’s candle for it won’t make yours shine brighter”

>> Jaachynma N.E. Agu

No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it”

>> Andrew Carnegie

“Toxic bosses take credit for victories while shirking responsibility during failure”

>> Dr Travis Bradberry

“When someone abuses their power within an organization, it’s toxic leadership”

>> Simon Sinek

Poor Leadership Quotes vii

“Consistency is the true foundation of trust. Either keep your promises or do not make them”

>> Roy T. Bennett

“Leaders with toxic personalities are slow to give praise and recognition, even for a job well done”

>> Sharon Salzberg

“Toxic bosses create an atmosphere of competition among their staff instead of collaboration”

>> Gary Rush

“The most toxic behavior in a leader is when they don’t keep their promises or carry through with commitments”

>> John C Maxwell

“A toxic leader will often surround themselves with people who are only interested in furthering their own agenda”

>> Stephen R Covey

“When you are too embarrassed to ask for help, that’s a little knock at your door saying, “you’re insecure”!”

>> Jocko Willink

“Toxic bosses have an inability to take responsibility for their actions”

>> Sharon Salzberg

“Truly powerful people have great humility. They do not try to impress, they do not try to be influential. They simply are”

>> Sanaya Roman

“Leaders with toxic personalities often use intimidation and fear tactics when communicating with employees”

>> Gary Rush

“Bad leaders focus more on themselves than those around them”

>> Ken Blanchard

Poor Leadership Quotes 7

“The mark of a great man is one who knows when to set aside the important things in order to accomplish the vital ones”

>> Brandon Sanderson

“When one person attempts to dominate another, it’s toxic leadership”

>> Max De Pree

Don’t get hung up on your views of how things “should” be because you will miss out on learnings how they really are”

>> Ray Dalio

“Leaders with toxic behaviors focus more on control than collaboration within their teams”

>> Simon Sinek

People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything”

>> Thomas Sowell

“Leaders with toxic personalities create an atmosphere where everyone around them feels disrespected and disregarded”

>> Adam Grant

“A bad leader can take a good staff and destroy it, causing the best employees to flee and the remainder to lose all motivation”

>> Unknown

“You can always recognize toxic leadership when team members feel like they’re not part of the larger mission”

>> Dr Travis Bradberry

“Bosses push, leaders pull. Real leadership is servant leadership”

>> Dave Ramsey

“Always remember people who have helped you along the way, and don’t forget to lift someone up”

>> Roy T. Bennett

Poor Leadership Quotes viii

“Leaders with toxic personalities rely heavily on micromanagement instead of delegating tasks among team members”

>> Adam Grant

“A toxic leader will use fear tactics to keep those around them from challenging their decisions”

>> Stephen R Covey

“Leaders with toxic personalities will often belittle or intimidate their employees”

>> Ken Blanchard

“When they discover that their staff members are wiser than they are, bad managers become uneasy and stop listening to them”

>> Unknown

“If the problems you have this year are the same problems you had last year, then you are not a leader. You are rather a problem on your own that must be solved”

>> Israelmore Ayivor

“Toxic bosses rely on threats of punishment rather than incentives to motivate good performance”

>> Gary Rush

“When personal agendas become more important than the team and the overarching mission’s success, performance suffers, and failure ensues”

>> Jocko Willink

“With power comes the abuse of power. And where there are bosses, there are crazy bosses. It’s nothing new”

>> Judd Rose

“Toxic leaders take credit for successes and blame others for failures”

>> Marshall Goldsmith

“The bottom line is, bad leaders are bad for business, and they’re even worse for their employees”

>> Leah Arnold-Smeets

Bad Leadership Quotes

“Great and pure thoughts cannot be deposited in minds accumulated with rubbish”

>> Michael Bassey Johnson

“There are good leaders who actively guide and bad leaders who actively misguide”

>> Shiv Khera

“You manage things; you lead people”

>> Grace Hopper

“A bad job with a good boss is better than a good job with a bad boss”

>> Unknown

“A bad leader can destroy morale by playing favorites among employees”

>> Brigid Schulte

“When someone attempts to control information or deny access to resources for their own benefit, it’s toxic leadership”

>> Marshall Goldsmith

“Leaders with toxic personalities create an environment that is not conducive to team morale or success”

>> Adam Grant

“You can always recognize poor leadership when team members feel like their opinions don’t matter or that they’re not valued”

>> Dr Travis Bradberry

“Every leader is a boss, but every boss is not a leader”

>> Amit Kalantri

“Leaders with toxic personalities are often authoritarian, making decisions without consulting their team”

>> Sharon Salzberg

Poor Leadership Quotes ix

“Bad leadership is poisoned with pedanticism, posturing, self-importance”

>> Marcia Whicker

“A bad boss is like a disease of the soul”

>> Chetan Bhagat

“You can always recognize bad leadership when team members are afraid to voice their own opinions or ideas”

>> Dr Travis Bradberry

“The most toxic behavior in a leader is when they manipulate the facts in order to get the outcome they want”

>> John C Maxwell

“Having a bad boss isn’t your fault. Staying with one is”

>> Nora Denzel

“The most toxic thing one person can do to another is treat them as expendable, replaceable, or expendable labor”

>> Brené Brown

“When someone seeks revenge on those who have blown the whistle on unethical practices, it’s toxic leadership”

>> Marshall Goldsmith

“You can always recognize toxic leadership when team members feel disconnected from higher level decisions or plans”

>> Dr Travis Bradberry

 “It’s not about you. It’s about them”

>> Clint Eastwood

“Toxic bosses expect perfection from their team, while offering negative feedback instead of constructive criticism”

>> Gary Rush

Bad Leadership Quotes

“I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure, which is: Try to please everybody”

>> Herbert Swope

“The person who sees the difficulties so clearly that he does not discern the possibilities cannot inspire a vision in others”

>> J. Oswald Sanders

“Bad leaders take all the credit. But never take the blame for the mistake”

>> Unknown

 “Poor leaders will often ignore team members when they speak up about issues or concerns”

>> Ken Blanchard

 “If the only way for you to get people to do your bidding is through force or intimidation, you are neither a leader nor a boss: you are an a**hole”

>> Charbel Tadros

People who lack vision almost always lack passion. Incompetent leaders are ineffective and they often stay that way”

>> John Maxwell

“You cease to be a leader when you manipulate with your egos instead of convincing by your inspirations”

>> Israelmore Ayivor

“Rotten leaders don’t get better. Any strategy that assumes they can is doomed”

>> Scott Adams

“The bad leaders are the ones that push hard so they can gain, who browbeat us so that they can receive the benefit of our hard work, not so we can enjoy the success”

>> Simon Sinek

“You can tell a bully from a leader by how they treat people who disagree with them”

>> Miles K. Davis

Poor Leadership Quotes x

And finally, quote #201

“It does not matter whether I am in Hong Kong or Sao Paolo – people always want to talk about toxic bosses and what to do about them”

Srikumar Rao

Overcoming Bad Leadership: Strategies for Positive Change

Dealing with poor leadership can be challenging, but it’s not an insurmountable obstacle.

As a leader, recognizing and addressing your own shortcomings is vital for personal growth and fostering a positive work environment for those you lead.

Here’s some tips to get you started:

Tip #1: Develop Self-Awareness

Being self-aware allows you to identify your areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments.

Start by working through the guide, 11 Mistakes to Watch Out For (Even if You Think You’re a Good Leader).

As you read through the 11 derailers in the guide, think about the tell-tale signs and symptoms of each and ask yourself,

“Do I recognise myself here – is this me?”

Make a note of the behaviors that you recognise in yourself, reflect on your actions and their impact on your team.

We all have some of these derailers, so I’ve included some coaching tips in the guide to make sure yours don’t sabotage your career success.

Tip #2: Seek Feedback

Actively seek feedback from your team members, peers and manager – if you ever get the opportunity to do a 360º stakeholder feedback then take it!  

Encourage open and honest two-way feedback, creating an environment where individuals feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and concerns.

Constructive feedback can provide valuable insights into areas where you may need to develop further.

Embrace feedback as an opportunity for growth rather than viewing it as criticism.

Tip #3: Embrace Continuous Learning

Commit yourself to lifelong learning and professional development.

Engage in leadership development programs, attend seminars or workshops, and read books or articles on leadership. Keep up with current trends and best practices in your field.

This commitment to learning will help you stay updated, broaden your perspective, and develop new skills to overcome your shortcomings.

Ultimate Leadership by Keith Ferrazzi is a course designed to do just that. It will elevate you into an effective leader for today’s authenticity and collaboration-focused business landscape.

Ultimate Leadership by Keith Ferrazzi

In just 20 minutes a day, you’ll rapidly level up your leadership skills through strategies and frameworks Keith has drawn from years of collaboration with the world’s top CEOs and professionals. And it includes the breakthrough epiphanies they’re using at this very moment to assure sustained success in times of uncertainty.

Keith’s program is on the Mindvalley platform. If you’re already a Mindvalley member you can log into your dashboard and get started straight away.

If you’re not a member yet, you can learn more about the Ultimate Leadership program here.

Tip #4: Build Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is crucial for effective leadership.

Work on understanding and managing your own emotions, as well as recognizing and empathizing with the emotions of others.

Develop active listening skills, show empathy, and create a safe and supportive environment for your team.

By fostering emotional intelligence, you can build stronger relationships and effectively navigate challenging situations.

Tip #5: Practice Open Communication

Establish a culture of open communication within your organization.

Encourage team members to share their ideas, concerns, and feedback. Actively listen to their perspectives and take their input into account when making decisions.

Transparent and clear communication helps build trust, fosters collaboration, and improves overall team performance.

Poor Leadership Quotes xi

Tip #6: Lead by Example

As a leader, your actions have a significant impact on your team.

Model the behavior and qualities you expect from those you lead. Demonstrate integrity, accountability, and resilience in your work.

Show appreciation for your team members’ efforts and provide them with opportunities for growth and development.

Remember that leading by example inspires and motivates others to do their best.

Tip #7: Build a Support Network

Surround yourself with a supportive network of mentors, coaches, and fellow leaders who can provide guidance and support.

Engage in discussions, share experiences, and seek advice from those who have faced similar challenges. Their insights and perspectives can offer valuable guidance on your leadership journey.

Tip #8: Continuously Reflect and Adapt

Regularly reflect on your leadership practices and their impact on your team and organization.

Be open to feedback and adjust your approach accordingly. Continuously strive for improvement and be willing to adapt your leadership style to meet the evolving needs of your team and the organization as a whole.

Remember, developing as a leader is an ongoing process. It’s the small changes that you make, day in, day out, that moves you towards being an exceptional leader.

By embracing these strategies and committing to your personal growth, you can overcome your shortcomings, enhance your leadership capability, and create a positive and productive work environment for those you lead.

Final Thoughts: Bad Leadership Quotes

Bad leadership takes many forms. As you can see from the quotes, some of these forms are obvious and some a little more subtle.

Every single leader I’ve worked with over the last 20 years or so, has demonstrated some of these poor leadership behaviors in some shape or form – even if only occasionally.

No one is immune, so I encourage you to engage in some honest reflection to identify where you need to make changes.

The good news is that the journey from poor leadership to exceptional leadership is challenging but entirely possible.

To help on this journey, I’ve created a free masterclass for you >> How to Get Unstuck: The 3 Secret Saboteurs that Keep You Stuck and Stop You From Realizing Your Full Potential.

Join me in this free training to learn how to overcome this trio of saboteurs so that you can finally achieve your goals and live the life you actually want – without the stress and overwhelm

Reserve your seat now.

Now over to you. Leave a comment below and tell me which was your favorite quote. Where there any that made you laugh? Or Cringe?


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  1. Anonymous

    I could not refrain from commenting. Very well

  2. Anonymous

    There’s definately a great deal to find out about this topic.
    I love all the points you’ve made.


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I'm Jenny Ostick

As an Organizational Psychologist and Master Coach I’m on a mission to make good leaders exceptional leaders. My lifework is to help leaders overcome the unhelpful beliefs, behaviours and habits that are holding them back, so they can become the exceptional leader they’re capable of being.


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I'm Jenny Ostick.

As an Organizational Psychologist and Leadership Coach I'm on a mission to make good leaders exceptional leaders.

I've spent the last 20 years working with leaders across the globe and have had the privilege of working with 1000+ leaders during this time.

I've worked with the likes of Deloitte, Virgin, Nestle and Coca-Cola to name just a few, and this has provided me with a unique insight into the difficulties that leaders face and the real things they struggle with.

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