5 Kinds of Leaders to Avoid


Leaders come in all shapes and sizes. They are male and female; they come from all races, nationalities and walks of life. There are bad, good and great leaders. We find them at all levels and in all organizations. Some hold positions while others influence informally. All leadership requires character.

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In the past, much discussion has focused on developing leadership skills like casting vision, coaching, leading meetings, aligning team members, motivating, being organized, etc. More recently, topics have turned to relational themes like emotional intelligence, communication, and interpersonal skills. Leading and relational skills are challenging to learn but not in comparison to changing my heart and character.

The longer I lead (and the older I get), it seems that it is more often my character and heart-related issues that trip me up. I struggle with heart attitudes and character issues that get in the way of leading and finishing well.

Here are five kinds of leaders I want to avoid becoming.

Crusty: These leaders are inflexible and not open to new ideas and innovation. They resist change because they have become hardened.

Career: These are leaders who are professional bureaucrats. They are about doing everything by the book and afraid to take risks in fear of jeopardizing their position. In fact they usually have arrived at their position due to upholding or conforming to policies, not necessarily because of their expertise or abilities.

Cranky: These are leaders who are self-protective and avoid sharing their real thoughts and feelings because they are too busy arguing or complaining. They are disagreeable and tend to say, “No”. They are distrustful, suspicious, negative, critical and judgmental of others’ and their ideas. They arrive at the office with a frown, and people know to avoid them.

Calloused: These are leaders hardened and jaded by the trials of life and the criticism of leadership.

Controlling: These leaders use fear of punishment, shame, guilt as primary force to motivate and force their agenda; don’t empower, hoard information. Often combined with command and control that assumes that leaders know best; they know the goals and outcomes, have a predetermined plan of how to get there; they micromanage so there is little deviance from the predetermined plan.

What do you think? Are skills or character harder to develop? Which one of the above 5 do you struggle with the most?

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About Steve Morgan

I work in Global Leadership Development with Cru with my wife, Terry. We have been married 30 years and have 4 grown children. We have a Masters in Global Leadership together through Azusa Pacific University. I generally write about 5 “L’s: Living Well, Loving Deeply, Learning Continuously, Leading Courageously and Leaving a Legacy. I occasionally write about Laughing Loudly. Subscribe on the right side to receive an email whenever there is a new post. I invite you to leave your comments so we can dialogue on the various topics and learn from each other. If you are new to the site, you might start with looking at some of the top posts or doing a search on the right side bar for one of the 5 “L’s” that interest you. Or you can view the blog archives for topics. Photo Credit: sarahjoellephotography.com
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8 Responses to 5 Kinds of Leaders to Avoid

  1. amessen says:

    Ugh, cranky. Such an easy trap for me to fall into. Needed a review of walking in the Spirit today…

  2. Another type that is maddening is the absent or disengaged leader. It’s actually ok for a while, but after a while its incredibly frustrating.

    • Steve Morgan says:

      Yes! I tried to find a word beginning with “C” for that but nothing comes close to how you describe it. It sounds like you have had an experience with a disengaged leader 😦 Partially engaged is frustrating as well. Thanks for visiting, Barrett and for your comment.

  3. Pingback: How to Avoid Two Dangerous Traps in Leadership – Listen and Engage | Linked 2 Leadership

  4. daylerogers says:

    I love the 5 C’s! The fact that I can see me in some of them isn’t so fun, but you’ve really made it clear that the heart is, well, the heart of the issue. If leaders can’t or refuse to lead from a place of genuineness and honesty and integrity, they’re not really leaders Just someone who likes to walk in front. Thanks for the insights!

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