The Cure For Bad Leadership

Have you ever had a sick child or spouse? You wanted to see them made well, to feel better, to be cured.

Now think about a bad leader you’ve been under. Did you want the same for them?

Image by Nils Geylen

Image by Nils Geylen

Probably not. I know I haven’t.

Instead of seeing improved leadership, there have been times I’ve wanted bad leaders gone. Out on the streets and out of a leadership position.

Looking back, I’ve come to realize this isn’t the proper attitude to have.

The Right Attitude To Have With Bad Leadership

Let’s be honest. Bad leadership is difficult to deal with. Team members are frustrated. Resources are stretched. You come to a breaking point.

It’s easy to look at the person who’s leading poorly and want them out.

Yet I’m now convinced this is the wrong attitude to have, at least when you first notice the issue. Instead we’ve got to make sure our attitude is right when we’re dealing with bad leadership.

Check your attitude. Make sure you’re approaching this leader with a caring heart and a desire to see the bad leadership traits corrected.

When your heart is in the right place, it’s much easier to confront and deal with the issues at hand.

The Cure For Bad Leadership

Now that your heart is in the right place, you can start dealing with the problem leader.

Begin by looking for a reason for the bad leadership. I’ve found, most of the time, bad leadership stems for a lack of influence. After all, leadership is influence.

So let’s look at how we can cure the lack of influence.

You’ve got to show the leader that he’s struggling because he’s not influencing. Instead, he’s trying to control through power and title.

You know this doesn’t work. I know it doesn’t work. But he most likely doesn’t.

Show him he needs to:

  • Be consistent: Inconsistency breeds a lack of trust and, thus, a lack of influence. When you’re consistent, people will know you’re who you say you are and you’ll do what you say.
  • Be a listener: When you begin to listen, you begin to gain to hear the issues of the day. You’re then able to act on the problems. When you listen and then act, your tribe will see you really are behind them.
  • Be a visionary: With a clear vision or strategy, you’ll know where you’re going and others will know where you’re going. There will be a sense of confidence in the direction you’re going. Teams are influenced by a strong sense of vision. Create a path and people will follow.

Question: What other suggestions do you have to cure bad leadership? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • I prefer to bottle up my feelings and then eventually explode at the leader, telling him how much he sucks and was never meant to be a leader.

    That went so well the one time I did it.

    In all seriousness, Joseph, you are spot on this post. I’ll be sharing this one for sure, because there are a lot of people who probably need to read it.

  • Carol Peterson

    I love Matt McWilliams’ response.

    That said, I’d add “pray for the person” to change and maybe pray for myself to encourage him.

    • Matt’s response was classic. Had me rolling!

  • I like the honesty in this post Joe, it’s exactly how I felt at times. When I was under a bad leader I tried to do the best I could and make my work stand out and hoped it rubbed off.

    • Kimanzi, I like how you talked about the importance of tying up loose ends in your new book. We may be leaving a job because of a “bad” leader, but we do best when we work our butts off – especially when we know we’re leaving. This kind of attitude is contagious – even to bad leaders.

    • Kimanzi, sounds like you did all that you could do!

  • I was listening to the most recent Catalyst podcast earlier today, and Craig Groeschel was talking about the importance of honoring our leaders. By honoring our leaders, they will become the leaders we need them to be. Often, we think that we should only honor leaders who “deserve” honor. We get it backwards.

    • So true Jon. It’s frustrating how this works in real life but it’s a process that has to be done.

  • I think you are on the right track, Joe. The reality is sometimes there isn’t much you can do to “lead up” in this way, but it is worth the effort. In any situation like this, the question to ask is “what will my response be” because that is the only thing you really can control.

  • DS

    I think it helps to model and be a specific example of what a leader looks like. A point of reference if you will.

    • DS, we do need to model the behavior of leadership. Others are watching us and we need to be the example they need.

  • I agree with your points reminding your leader of what he is out for is really essential for the employees to maintain a healthy environment.

  • Your opening analogy got me thinking about this in a different way – often the mentality really is “that person just needs to go.” In fact, I have seen problems and even poor organizational culture attributed to poor leaders, aas if everything is there fault.
    I’ve learned that bad leadership can be several things, or the lack thereof: Skills, Education, or Attitude.
    It easy to point to attitude without realizing that it may only be a symptom of a lack of skills or education – somthing that can be fixed.
    Great thoughts again, Joe!

    • Jonathan, thanks for adding to the conversation. I like where you went with what I started with.

      There’s so many reasons that bad leadership can happen. That’s why it’s so important to keep an eye out and listen to those we’re leading. This way we can tap into their heart and discover the true reason.

  • Amber Ecker

    I’m not sure I neccessarily know how to cure bad leadership but I do know that it sometimes helps shape the leader I want to be someday. Meaning that being “under” bad or ineffective leaderership gives me the opposite experience I want to provide for my future “followers” or stakeholders.

    • Amber, I’m with you about learning from a bad leader. If we’re serving under someone who lacks great leadership skills, we can turn it around and use it as a learning experience.