How to Protect Yourself from Becoming a Bad Leader

How to Protect Yourself from Becoming a Bad Leader

John Eades 05/07/2018 9

Nobody starts out wanting to be a bad leader. Yet, in research we conducted, more than 50% of respondent rated their leader as being below average based on success and effectiveness.

Nobody wants to be a bad leader, but the majority don’t seem to be getting the job done. Before I give you some ways to protect yourself from becoming a bad leader, it’s important to provide the context of how I define leadership:

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.

John Quincy Adams

In most cases, bad leadership begins with either a lack of understanding about what good leadership is or not having a leadership model to emulate. Maybe this is because we had a generation of leaders focused so much on providing financially they missed on the importance of the emotional connection. Maybe it’s because 33 percent of kids grow up without a father figure. Whatever the reason, now is the time to become aware of ways to protect yourself from becoming a bad leader.

Don’t Underestimate the Temptation of Power and Money

People want to move into leadership roles because they desire a greater sense of power. In many cases it comes with the territory, but don’t think for a second it’s any less dangerous than a drug. As Plato said, “The measure of a man is what he does with power.” Power can bring out the worst in people - micromanagement, control issues, inflated egos, or disrespect for others. One of the best ways to circumvent power is to give it away. Once you get to a leadership role give others full responsibility to make important decisions and just be there as a sounding board when they need an opinion or advice. 

Money is a whole different level than power and is clearly the reason why most people simply can’t effectively lead. They are too concerned with the almighty dollar and how much they are going to get at the end of the day. It clouds their leadership judgement. A mentor of mine told me something I will never forget, “The easiest way to find out the character of a man is to put money on the table and just watch what they do.” If you don’t have a healthy and correct relationship with money prior to leading, then you you’re at risk of being or becoming a poor leader.  

Start Your Day the Right Way

Bob Beaudine author of the new book, 2 Chairs told me, “How you start your day absolutely matters.” I prescribe to Bob’s approach by starting the majority of my days by setting up two chairs in my kitchen to pray, but there are different strokes for different folks. It could be a morning workout followed by meditation or as Mac Lackey taught me, pulling out a 3 x 5 notecard to write down the most important things to be completed that day (or as he calls it #whatmovestheneedle). 

What You Put In Matters

Tom Ziglar on this week’s episode of the Follow My Lead Podcast said, “What you feed your mind, determines your appetite.” Which mimics his dad, Zig Ziglar’s famous quote:

You are what you are and where you are, because of what’s gone into your mind. You can change what you are and you can change where you are by changing what goes into your mind.

If you want to protect yourself from becoming a bad leader, fill your mind with positive, fact-based, and wholesome content. Unfortunately, it might mean not watching a show like Netflix’s ‘House of Cards’ because of it’s poor example of leadership and instead reading a leadership or business book. I know it seems trivial but small decisions like these add up to big results over time. It’s like the old adage, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

Have People to Hold You Accountable

This is probably the second most popular miss by bad leaders outside of coveting power and money over people. So often bad leaders simply don’t have people in their life to hold them accountable to a certain standard. Whether it’s because they believe they are self-disciplined enough not to need it, or they feel they are above it, it’s an enormous problem. Here is the trick, this doesn’t happen by accident. It takes you inviting people into your life to hold you accountable to a certain standard. I am lucky enough to have a few people like this in my life and honestly I am not sure where I would be without it. Whether it’s someone in another department, a mentor outside of your office, or just a close friend, please don’t let another month go by without having some level of accountability in place. 

These are just a few ways to protect yourself from becoming a bad leader. Now it’s your job to ensure they are in place, or you risk becoming a statistic like the majority of leaders in our study. 

Share this article

Leave your comments

Post comment as a guest

terms and condition.
  • James Taylor

    Bad leaders do not have a clear vision. They add different products or ideas into the mix without any rhyme. They overly use the word transparency. There are also lots of layoffs without reason.

  • Debbie Murphy

    You can also add no clear plan on how to create revenue and strong culture

  • William Gibbons

    Interesting read

  • Kumar Mohit

    Good article

  • Marco Ottosson

    The best method is to look at the CEO and upper management. If the CEO has narcissistic personality disorder, the company will be in trouble at some point, even if it's not at the moment. Small companies are often reflections of the CEO's personality.

  • Brian Lowry

    Employees who have been unjustly fired threaten to turn the company in to several different regulating agencies, and successfully negotiate a very nice severance package.

  • Eric Walker

    Working at a "sinking ship" company is like living in the 3rd class compartment of a physicially sinking ship.

  • Stevie Brailsford

    If your boss suddenly loses interest in any project with a non-immediate timeline, you should know what has happened.

  • Elissa Campbell

    Insightful post. If your manager fails to pay you on time, even once, get out. Things rarely recover and I've seen people go through years of uncertainty where their employers limped along.

Share this article

John Eades

Leadership Expert

John is the CEO of LearnLoft, author of, F.M.L. Standing Out & Being a Leader and host of the 'Follow My Lead' Podcast. He writes or has been featured on, LinkedIn Pulse,,, CNBC Money, and more. John completed his education at the University of Maryland College. 

Cookies user prefences
We use cookies to ensure you to get the best experience on our website. If you decline the use of cookies, this website may not function as expected.
Accept all
Decline all
Read more
Tools used to analyze the data to measure the effectiveness of a website and to understand how it works.
Google Analytics