Knowing how to lead effectively can mean the difference between success and failure. Ineffective leadership leads to disillusionment, quitting and tension in a wide array of endeavors such as business, team sports and politics. Ineffective leaders lack the courage to tackle difficult problems, often shifting blame to others. Knowing what traits characterize ineffective leaders is useful because it can offer a reference point for what not to do as a leader.


Ineffective leaders feel that all the work is done. They do not think that improvements can or should be made. Unlike good leaders, ineffective leaders do not strive to look at the world in a new way or to hone their leadership skills. Their complacency often leads followers to lose respect for them because their followers feel that they are following in vain. The lack of initiative that ineffective leaders embody can even trickle down to their followers, making it difficult to achieve success.

Poor Communication


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What a leader communicates and how she communicates it plays a large role in determining if a leader is ineffective. Ineffective leaders make orders and give instructions that are enigmatic and misguided. Subordinates or other team members often have difficulty understanding the leader's motivation behind certain orders because they make little sense and even contradict the team's stated objectives. Poor communication goes beyond what leaders say, too. Leading by example also involves communication. Ineffective leaders say one thing and do another. Ineffective leaders lose credibility with their subordinates, making it harder for them to convince team members in the future that they should follow what she says or does.

Distrust (See References 1)

Because ineffective leaders fail to lead their teams by example and lack the proper communication skills to achieve success, they often have difficulty establishing trust with their followers. If employees or team members do not trust a leader, they will likely become disillusioned and either quit or rebel in some way. Followers distrust ineffective leaders because they put them in harm's way without justifiable cause and because they feel that they are being used for individual aspirations and greed.


Ineffective leaders do not own up to their own mistakes. They feel that they can commit serious mistakes and either shift the blame to innocent followers or hide the gravity of their mistakes. Ineffective leaders do not own up to their own shortcomings because doing so is a threat to their competence and ability to manage. Some leaders even delegate all responsibilities to other people so that when a problem occurs, they will not be directly responsible for it.