Six signs you serve under low-quality leaders

How one communicates matters in leadership. Photo/Stock.

What you need to know:

  • Did you know?  One of the 11 laws of effective leadership is “Hire great people then get out of their way.” A low-quality leader has no idea about this law.

Leadership determines the destinies of persons, families, and ultimately, nations. It is renowned leadership expert, John Maxwell, who says, “Everything rises and falls on leadership” meaning that the success (or lack thereof) of a thing depends on the leadership behind it.

In my leadership experience, there are two kinds of leaders; the high -quality leaders and low-quality leaders.  Let’s look at low-quality leaders.

You know a low-quality leader when you meet one. They could be in your home as the husband, or church as your reverend, or organisation as your CEO. Whatever title comes before their name, you will see their effects in your stunted growth, a toxic working environment that will leave you unfulfilled.

But what exactly does a low-quality leader look like?

1. They have no goals
They have no focus because they have no clearly stated goals or timelines. They haphazardly run the organisation that you find yourself running one errand after another, doing every job because most likely they did not provide you with a job description. And they prefer it this way because then can overwork  you without your permission and exploit you without being accountable. 

Brenda shares: “I started working for this guy and everything was well at first until I realised I had no contract. When I mentioned it to him, he bluntly told me he does not give his workers contracts.

He prefers they prove their worth. I believed him at first but I learnt from other co-workers that he feared being sued in case employee issues arose. That was frustrating.

He switched us between roles any way he wanted. He occupied us with tasks that made no difference to us individually and professionally.  The accountant was doing human resource work and the operations manager, running errands for his home. I left after two years.”

2. They have no character
A low-quality leader begins by being a low-quality person. When it comes to achieving what they want, they will not hesitate to do anything to get it even if it means throwing you, the worker, under the bus.

A leader who makes their subordinates do the wrong thing for their survival is a low-quality leader. They do not take personal responsibility or own up but survival is the only goal they have. 

James explains: “I had this leader who was a sweet talker. He promised much but delivered little. That was not a problem for me. I had gotten to know him well I never took any of his words seriously. What bothered me though was that he started to cut deals while fronting my name.

I became the poster boy for his shady deals. Soon I began to worry about my life. I could be taken out at any time. I decided to quit this job.”

3. They are insecure
One of the 11 laws of effective leadership is “Hire great people then get out of their way.” A low-quality leader has no idea about this law. They will hire a great leader and stay in their way. They will interfere and interrupt them because they are insecure. They fear that the new leader is smarter and will do better than them or they are afraid to lose control so they hang around like a bad smell. 

“This leader was great, or so I thought until he left me in charge,” says Jackie. 

“He started to call in to advise me on what to do, at times being very critical. At first, I let it slide but as time went on, I could not take his patronising behaviour anymore. I wanted to lead in a different direction because after all that is why I was hired (and he was promoted to get out of my way), but he would not let me. I realised he feared I would excel beyond him. I decided to ignore him and move on with my work.”

4. They do not communicate clearly
A high-quality leader should be able to communicate the expectations and goals of the team/project clearly and consistently. They should also be able to take feedback and adjust according to the needs of the moment. In the family setting, however, many a husband have abandoned communicating with their wives and children. They provide for their families but fail to communicate with them.

I think it is a problem men inherited from Adam. The man kept silent at the most critical moment when Eve brought him the forbidden fruit to eat.

He should have reminded her of the commands about that tree and rejected it forthrightly but the man ate the whole human race out of paradise! Husbands cannot and should never leave the role of communication to their wives.

Jovia on her husband Mark: “I married an introvert because I am an extrovert. Mark has many good qualities ,  but communicating is not one of them. I have to read his mind most of the time. This drains my energy. I wish he could communicate more, okay maybe not to me but to the kids. They need to hear their father’s voice but it is sadly absent in our home.”

5. They are fearful
High-quality leadership requires boldness to confront situations and challenges.  A leader who cowers in the face of problems is a low-quality leader. They are not fit to lead. They belong to the led. They are the kind who operate from a position of fear and thus use manipulation tactics (such as gas lighting, silent treatment, debasement, and regression) to influence people and decisions. 

“I worked under a boss who was a coward. The man would never tell you if you were wrong rather you would hear it from a coworker, him having shared your issue with them in confidence. Okay, I am also not the simplest of persons I will confront you head-on.  May be that is why he feared me but rather approached me like a man and we sorted it. I despise that fellow!” says Shamirah, a leadership coach.

6.They know-it-all
There is no greater pain than to serve under a leader like this. He is inadvisable, always loving to hear his voice than others. He gives counsel to others but takes none from them. He is a know-it-all and he is dangerous to himself. 

“I worked with a fellow like that once.” my good friend, David says. 

“He would come up with new ideas and bounce them off us as a team. We would try to reason with him but the man would not listen to any one of us. Over time, we learned that every time he came to us, it was to show us that he knew better, not to get our opinions. We kept our distance. With time, every project he handled failed because no one wanted to work with him and also he did not think out his projects well. They were mostly rushed to please the roving eye of the boss that he was working. He ended up fired and leaving the company to the delight of everyone.”

These alone are not the only signs of a low-quality leader. I am sure you can identify many more in others, but how about in yourself? Over to you...