8 ways to be a terrible leader

The Brief
Yes, with power comes great responsibility, but it comes with plenty of other stuff too: confidence, charisma, good hair. And then there are the ugly bits. The C-suite is rife with legends of megalomania and subterfuge (not to mention, novelty socks). Here are eight traits to avoid as you climb the ranks.

leadership traits, c-suite

Cred: Rebecca Feeney


1. Complacency: All those laurels? Get up off them. The past is the past. There’s no excuse for sitting back as markets and technology change.

2. Anxiety: You’ve enjoyed years of success, so why get squeamish now? Take a chance. Failure to continue to innovate is much more likely to end badly than any calculated risk you might try.

3. Dominance: You’re a leader of people, not sheep. Domineering CEOs that do not heed the advice of subordinates are dangerous to the enterprise. Ignoring others promotes groupthink, brain drain and other jargony outcomes, none of which are good.

4. Thirst for power: Sweet, addictive power. CEOs who focus on centralizing power may have a strong vision, but it is one likely to undermine their organization’s ability to adapt to industry changes.

5. Manipulation: Sure, manipulators can go places. They also erode trust between employees, negatively impact organizational chemistry and prompt brain drain. Twist enough arms and someone’s bound to speak up, or leave, their skill set and talent in tow.

6. Narcissism: Mr. Egomaniac, you’ll be pleased to know this one is all about you. On the one hand, narcissists can be skilled negotiators, persuasive and creative. On the other, they can wreak havoc in an office, diminishing the importance of others, both in reality and perception, which leads to less productivity, teamwork and trust.

7. Lack of Accountability: The type of leader who doesn’t hold himself accountable, who shifts blame to others on his or her team, is no leader at all. You teach accountability by being accountable yourself. C-suiters lead by example

8. Indecision: Enough with the hemming and hawing. At the end of the day, the final word is yours. You were put in this position to make decisions; if you can’t make the tough calls, you let down the team. And that effectively abdicates your place in the pecking order.

The Takeaway: Well, it’s pretty simple. Don’t be a complacent, anxious, domineering, power-hungry, manipulative, narcissistic, finger-pointing, milquetoast, and you should be fine.


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