Small business owners must guide their employees and help them develop into an effective team. Employees trust a good leader, knowing that following her will benefit everyone in the end. But bad leaders are untrustworthy, whether due to their inability to inspire or an inability to choose the correct path for the organization.

Poor Communication

Bad leaders fail to communicate with their followers, which spawns confusion and slows workflow. Worse, bad leaders don’t recognize that the problem lies with them. Instead, they blame their employees for failing to follow orders. Good leaders, in contrast, know that the difference between what they said and what they think they said can be huge. They tailor their messages to their audience and double check to ensure directions are clear to everyone. Good leaders also solicit feedback so they can use the criticism to improve their leadership.

Poor Role Model

Bad leaders fail to model the behaviors they want to instill in employees, which has two negative effects. First, employees never see their leader’s message in practice, so they lack a role model to emulate. Second, employees assume the leader lacks conviction and that her messages are just hype, meant to inspire them to work harder but lacking true value.


Bad leaders can be good at motivating followers but lack the skills necessary to properly manage a project. For example, a bad leader might push her staff toward the wrong goals, wasting time and resources. On the other hand, bad leaders can know which goals to pursue but lack the ability to mobilize workers. For instance, failing to organize tasks and delegate responsibilities jeopardizes any mission.


Bad leaders never find the right balance between discipline and support. For example, a drill-sergeant approach to project management might leave employees disgruntled, while a lenient approach might fail to push them hard enough to accomplish the project goals. A good leader finds a balance between pushing employees to be their best and helping them work within their limitations.


Bad leaders never swerve from their favored leadership style. But different teams and projects have different needs, and leaders must adapt their management style to suit the situation. For example, suppose a leader typically relies on a training manual to bring new hires up to speed. Some employees might benefit more from a hands-on approach, but a bad leader fails to recognize that need and never adapts the training program. Consequently, these employees will take longer to develop, or worse, never reach their full potential.