May 15, 2017 Emily Lierle

Look For These Signs Of Ineffective Leadership

It’s not uncommon for leaders to assume their rank in the company allows them to hit “Cruise Control” and lose sight of their obligations as a leader. If a leader fails to recognize the following signs of ineffective leadership within himself or herself, it may be time to bring in the new talent you need to drive those success outcomes.

6 Signs of Ineffective Leadership

1 – Fear of change

The best leaders adapt. They see change as opportunity during shifting economic climates, embrace fresh ideas from teams, and understands hiring and firing needs. If you’ve worked with someone who is too quick to hire and too afraid to fire, or who rejects novel ideas from bright minds, it’s one of the classic signs of ineffective leadership. Change can certainly seem scary, but it’s a nudge for leaders to embrace challenges and find new solutions.

2 – Too controlling

Nobody wants to work for a helicopter manager. Allow people to do their work, implement their own ideas, and leave communication channels open for healthy work relationships. Company cultures thrive where leaders empower and trust their fellow employees.

3 – Inconsistent

Great leaders collaborate, make decisions and follow through consistently. Someone who offers inconsistent feedback, or who proves wishy-washy on a frequent basis, can have a negative impact on the momentum of a team. Those inconsistencies can show up in many ways, such as applying different standards to different employees, failing to act on commitments, or even unpredictable mood swings.

4 – Ineffective judge of character

This trait can apply to understanding others as well as judging the leader’s own limits and talents. The most self-aware leaders can recognize where they fall short, and where others can compensate accordingly. Harboring a keen sense of people also contributes to wise hiring decisions.

5 – Too quick to give in

One of the key signs of ineffective leadership is the lack of a backbone when it comes to dealing with clients and employees. A successful leader must draw a line when needed. Any sort of “pushover” behavior can lead to poor business decisions down the road. Leaders must know how to say no, and know when to compromise.

6 – Poor sense of empathy

The old adage “walk a mile in my shoes” applies to leaders. If someone in a leadership role fails to see things from varying perspectives, then he or she will never truly grow to be an effective leader. What is one of the telltale signs of ineffective leadership to remain cautious of? The mindset that it’s “my way or the highway.” This behavior ties back to overly controlling leaders. Why work for someone who unwaveringly favors his or her own ideas over others? Furthermore, a leader who simply hires clones — the same cookie-cutter personalities — disregards both diversity and challenging points of view.

What other signs of ineffective leadership have you experienced? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Are you looking for effective leaders to propel your organization forward? We can help. Contact us to learn more.


Y Scouts, a leadership search firm, finds purpose-aligned as well as performance-proven leaders to help organizations achieve their missions faster. Ready to supercharge your leadership search and get the right person in your organization? Contact Y Scouts.