Signs of an Incompetent Business Leader

By William Vogeler, Esq. on April 12, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Incompetent business leaders have defining characteristics.

Here are some samples: they can't make decisions; they make bad choices; they are out of touch.

They are also easy to spot; just turn on the nightly news. If only they were as easy to deal with. Short of going elsewhere, here are some ideas:

Moving Away

Researchers have classified three types of bad behaviors: moving away, moving against, and moving toward.

Dr. Robert Hogan says sometimes these behaviors help leaders emerge, but often at the expense of subordinates.

"Moving away" behaviors create distance from others. Typically, these people are hyper-emotional and skeptical to the point of eroding trust.

Moving Against

A business leader is "moving against" others by overpowering or manipulating them. It is the alpha dog-eats-dog.

These types of leader are also egocentric. They self-aggrandize, and put down underlings.

"The popular media is full of examples of bad leaders in government, academia, and business with these characteristics," writes Scott Gregory for Harvard Business Review.

Moving Toward

A bad leader may exhibit "moving toward" behavior by being ingratiating, overly conforming, and not willing to take chances for a team.

Good communication is a challenge for all bad leaders. If they communicate at all, they do it poorly.

Knowing about bad behaviors may not solve leadership problems, but at least it helps when dealing with them. If they describe your boss, you might also consider "moving on" behavior.

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