How to Make Sure You Don’t Become a Bad Leader

How to Make Sure You Don’t Become a Bad Leader

Nobody starts out wanting to be a bad leader. Yet ego-driven, power-hungry, micromanaging, absent-minded managers and executives are prevalent in organizations. But don’t just take my word for it. In our research, more than 50% of respondents rated their leader as being below average.

What gives? 

Before I give you some ways to protect yourself from becoming a bad leader, it’s essential to provide the context of how I defined being a leader in Building the Best: Someone whose actions inspire, empower, and serve in order to elevate others.  

Why There Are So Many Bad Leaders

In most cases, bad leadership begins with either a lack of understanding about what good leadership is or assuming leadership is a job, instead of a mindset backed up by actions.

Leadership isn’t a job, it’s a mindset backed up by actions to elevate others.

Instead of debating all the reasons for the current lousy leader population, now is the time to become aware of ways to protect yourself from becoming a bad leader.

Know Your Core Values

I don’t care how old you are or what kind of role you have; there is one thing that is intimately important to ensure you are becoming the kind of leader you want to be, knowing your core values. 

Core values are simply the fundamental beliefs a person holds true. Once established with clarity, these guiding beliefs dictate behavior and help you decipher right from wrong. Here is why this is so important. Your current feelings and emotions win over your values if they aren’t clearly defined and intentionally set.  

When this happens, you will end up as a bad leader, justifying all those poor decisions. Don’t let this happen to you. Take the time to either define your core values or remind yourself of them.

If you want some help, download the Personal Core Values Blueprint here

Audit the Content Going to Your Mind

Tom Ziglar told me years ago, “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 lousy leader, regularly audit the content going into your mind (You’re off to a great start reading this blog). Unfortunately, it might mean not binge-watching the next hot show on Netflix in favor of listening to a podcast or a leadership book. 

While this might seem trivial, small decisions like these add up to significant results over time. 

Increase Personal Accountability

Often, bad leaders don’t have people in their lives to hold them accountable to a certain standard. Typically it’s because they believe they’re self-disciplined enough not to need it or feel they are above it.

Accountability doesn’t happen by accident.  

Here is the trick, accountability doesn’t happen by accident. It takes inviting people into your life to hold you accountable. This can come in the context of a professional coach, friend, colleague, spouse, or a growth group. Regardless of who it is or how you do it, continually increase the accountability year after year. 

Don’t Underestimate the Temptation of Power

Most people want the promotion because of the greater sense of power that comes with the position. While there is nothing wrong with power on its own, it isn’t something to take lightly. 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, empower others to make decisions they can make. 


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. 

How do you handle working with or for a bad leader? Tell me in the comments section.

Leverage Accountability in Leadership: Ready to take your accountability skills to the next level? Join us for the next Leverage Accountability in Leadership Workshop. Sign up and get “Proven Techniques to Leverage Accountability” immediately. Sign up today!

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About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades.