How to Know If You’re a Terrible Leader

How to Know If You're a Terrible Leader | She Sweats Diamonds
As I was growing up, I never wanted wanted to be a leader. I was a follower. Always. Maybe it was because I was extremely introverted and was scared of people. Literally.

I mean, I always hid under my bed when my parents’ friends came over just so I wouldn’t have to see them or say hi. Yeah, it was that bad.

Since then, I’ve grown to learn that humans aren’t all that scary. I had to meet a lot of people when I ended up holding leadership positions in high school and college. Anyway, when it came to group assignments/projects in college, I never voluntarily wanted to be the group leader. I was either nominated by my peers or stepped up because no one wanted to assume the responsibility and we had to tell the teacher who the leader was in what seemed like two minutes.

When I started my own business, that’s when everything changed. I was able to be a follower and a leader. The 9 to 6? Not so much. I’m more of a follower because I have to in that realm. Needless to say, my experiences in being a business owner and working in corporate America over these past five years has drastically changed my perspective on what a leader should embody. I know what a good leader looks like and I definitely know what a terrible leader looks like.

Being a leader is not easy. It takes a lot of work, but to me, it’s so much fun because you’re constantly learning and growing.

If you want to be a better leader, aspire to be a leader or just want to spot the bad ones, keep reading because here are some telling signs that you’re a terrible leader:

  1. You’re not approachable. If you’re up on your high horse, just expect to stay up there because no one is going to approach YOU. It’s easier for you to get down from your pedestal than to ask someone to climb up to your level.
  2. People don’t feel like they can be themselves around you. If people are intimidated by you, you’re in trouble. By intimidated, I mean if those around you can’t tell you what’s on their heart, there’s a lack of trust with you or a fear of you. If they have to think about how you’ll react, you’re a terrible leader. If they have to think about how they could lose their relationship/friendship with you instead of being able to tell you what’s on their heart, you’re not as “warm” as you think.
  3. Communication is minimum or lacking. Don’t be one of those leaders who only calls when you need something. If that person you’re calling up is really nice, they’ll help you get what you need (usually once) and will most likely blacklist you for the rest of their life. Trust me. Once you cross that line, it’s hard for others to see you as genuine. Real leaders put people ahead of their needs.
  4. Connection lacks between you and those around you. It is absolutely possible for connections to be professional yet strong enough to build relationships that turns into lifelong friendships. If there’s no connection, the gap of leader-to-leader widens. Real leaders have close and genuine connections with those around them.
  5. You can’t stand when other people are growing. If you can’t stand it when others are shining to a point where you’re trying to snuff out their light, you’re not even a leader. You’re a terrible human being. Jealousy doesn’t look pretty on anyone.
  6. You play favorites. What a dangerous game especially when you’re in the business world! My advice? Don’t even try to play favorites. People aren’t stupid. They can smell it like a garlic and onion sandwich even if it’s a million miles away. When you start playing favorites, I hope you don’t fail to notice the amount of people distancing themselves from you.
  7. You’re resistant to others’ ideas. If you have a “my way or the highway” mentality, you’re not a leader because 1) you won’t have any followers anyway and 2) it’s not all about you! Listening to others’ ideas can help you be a better leader. How? By giving someone a chance to share their idea, you’re giving them a chance to lead, thus you are empowering someone else. Remember, a rising tide lifts all ships.
  8. You micromanage those around you. If you’re micromanaging people, you’re lacking trust in the very people you choose to surround yourself with. Lack of trust equals lack of delegation. This only means one thing. Not only are you a terrible leader, you’re a stressed out one whose focus is way off because you’re busy not trusting anyone. When you trust others is when you have time to focus on your own goals.
  9. You’re arrogant. There is nothing less attractive about a person than their arrogance. Here’s the truth: people naturally gravitate towards those who are humble. I don’t care how much money you have, your title nor who you know (yeah, I’m talking to you name droppers). There’s a difference between being confident and being cocky.
  10. It’s everyone else’s fault, but yours. At some point, you’ve got to sit down and reevaluate all of your problems. Blaming everyone around you, but yourself makes you untouchable. If the thought of admitting you made a mistake makes you cringe, you need a soul audit. Everyone makes mistakes. If you can’t admit that YOU are the common denominator to your problems, you’ve got a pride problem. Yeah, you’re not perfect either. Get off of your high horse voluntarily or you’ll be knocked off unexpectedly some day. Either way, you’ve got to eat the entire humble pie.

Obviously, there are a ton more signs on how to spot a bad leader, but these are my top ten I’ve noticed within the last five years working in a corporate America setting and in an entrepreneurial environment.

What about you?

What boxes does someone have to tick off for them to be considered as a terrible leader?