Poor leadership doesn’t only affect a company’s bottom line, it also has a trickle-down effect on every employee’s work—and even on their personal lives.

Company leaders who exhibit selfishness, pride, a lack of cooperation, or a lack of caring can cause many symptoms—from distraction and inefficiencies to exhaustion and overwhelming stress—that put employees in exit interviews and the company on a track to nowhere. This isn’t a place where anyone wants to work, and eventually, the company’s bottom line will prove it.

Here are seven signs of bad leadership that indicate it might be time to make some changes.

1- The Use of Fear-Based Tactics

Intimidation, passive-aggressive actions, narcissism, or a “Because I Said So” attitude are all tactics used by bad leaders when it has to be their way or the highway. There is no place for any of these behaviors in the workplace.

If you find yourself complying with your leader’s demands not because you want to but because you are afraid not to, this is a serious sign that you are suffering under bad leadership and it’s time to go.

2- A Variety of Communication Missteps

There are so many ways that communication can go wrong. The occasional slip-up is one thing, but if a one-time mistake becomes the norm, it’s a sure sign that your company leaders are not leading well.

Watch out for these examples of poor communication:

  • A leader who spends long periods away and seems detached or uninterested.
  • A leader who does not answer phone calls or reply to emails, even when they’re urgent.
  • A leader who fails to pass along information about company policies, procedures, or news.
  • A leader who frequently interrupts or cuts conversations short.

3- Interoffice Politics and a Divided Team

Either intentional or unintentional division among team members is a result of dysfunctional leadership. Since synergy yields the best results, an environment where team members compete against each other rather than supporting one another is not what you want. Negativity, gossip, backstabbing, favoritism, and feelings of resentment are all consequences of a house divided.

4- Next-to-Nothing Results

Productivity problems originate with managers who waste time and energy in the wrong areas. For example, managers who complain about poor results rather than getting to the root cause of them or who over-plan without actually executing are clearly focused on the wrong things.

Disorganization, unclear expectations, and employees working against each other make it nearly impossible to achieve any sort of desired results. An unhappy staff has no motivation to work hard. This lack of care causes recruitment problems, so-so company reviews, and stagnating profits.

5- Morale is Low

Low morale is more than an overall lack of enthusiasm (though it is that, too). In the workplace, low morale is defined as negative feelings that feed an unwillingness to cooperate or complete assignments on time, if at all.

Poor employee morale is contagious and can spread rapidly, caused by an environment that feeds gossip and distrust and offers little or no chance of reward or fulfillment. These are all things produced by a poor leader that a good leader can prevent.

6- There Is a Revolving Door of Talent

This is a biggie. If there’s something really wrong with your leaders, continual employee turnover will be your sign. Are you seeing a lot of new faces but the workforce isn’t growing? Weak leaders often use hiring and rehiring employees as a band-aid to cover up serious issues.

Consider high turnover a sign of dissatisfaction and ask yourself whether it’s time for you to leave as well. It may be time for you to find a company that listens to feedback (both good and bad) and treats its employees with the respect they deserve.

7-  Your Co-Workers or Clients Are Questioning Their Trust in the Company

It’s not uncommon for resentful or unhappy employees to rant to their friends and family members about their experiences at work. Venting frustration operates as a safety valve and allows employees to let off some steam. But if employee dissatisfaction becomes more public, and especially if it comes from more than one person, it can be a sign of serious problems within the company.

Online reviews are rife with ex-employees bad-mouthing poor company leadership and spilling the beans regarding the reasons for their departure. Take them seriously. If their experience sounds familiar to you—if it matches what you’ve seen or experienced—think about how long you want to stay in the company.

Pay attention to online reviews from customers as well, and see how the company responds. Negative reviews and poor responses to them can cause people to wonder whether they want to do business with a company (or work for it).

However, if the company responds positively and tries to fix problems, that can be a hopeful sign. Leaving is not the only option if your company is showing signs of bad leadership. Find out what you can do to turn around bad leadership by contacting CMOE today!

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About the Author
CMOE’s Design Team is comprised of individuals with diverse and complementary strengths, talents, education, and experience who have come together to bring a unique service to CMOE’s clients. Our team has a rich depth of knowledge, holding advanced degrees in areas such as business management, psychology, communication, human resource management, organizational development, and sociology.

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