6 Consequences of Bad Leadership
Organizations must remain watchful to guard against bad leadership, which can fall on the spectrum from incompetence to full on abusiveness. Bad leaders have a negative impact on employees, on the company, and ultimately on the products or services they provide.
Their behaviors often include intimidation, bullying, misrepresenting facts, rejecting input from employees, retaliation, blaming others, dishonesty, deceit, and anger. These toxic behaviors prevent the formation of a positive organizational climate, prevent other leaders from meeting their requirements, and thwart the organization from accomplishing its goals.
Bill Treasurer and John Havlik, in their book The Leadership Killer: Reclaiming Humility in an Age of Arrogance, explain the dangers of bad leadership and how to protect against it. Treasurer, a leadership consultant, and Havlik, a retired Navy SEAL, both have extensive leadership experience, and their book provides key insights into the dangers of toxic leaders.
Treasurer and Havlik identify six repercussions of bad leadership.
1. Mission: The best leaders intentionally pursue worthy goals. Bad leaders prioritize their own goals over the organization’s.
2. Morale: Success depends on positive employee morale. Bad leaders wreck morale, and they generate an environment in which their followers feel as if they exist to simply act or react to the chaotic whims of their leader.
3. Performance: Individuals simply don’t work hard for leaders they don’t trust or respect.
4. Loyalty: Bad leaders are only loyal to themselves, and they fail to build any sort of enduring loyalty amongst their followers.
5. Ethics: Toxic leaders are unethical and unprincipled. Their dishonesty can infect an organization like a virus and lead to a corrupt culture.
6. Reputation: Strong leaders are respected, loyal to their organization, and faithful to their employees. Bad leaders are selfish and in time develop poor reputations for not only themselves but the organization too.
The consequences of bad leadership are far-reaching and can be devastating. Organizations should take swift and immediate action to root out toxic leaders. They should also institute positive leadership development programs to groom their own “humble, balanced, and focused” leaders.
A healthy leader–follower relationship relies on trust, respect, competency, and commitment to the organization. A leader has the power to influence and shape the employee’s job experience and the organizational culture. Destructive leaders, however, abuse their power by using coercion to manipulate for personal gain, and employ fear as a motivator. The negative impacts of a leader’s destructive behaviors are detrimental and painful to the followers in an organization, and the long-term impact on corporate culture can be costly.