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Bad Leadership

Key Idea

Most of the research on leadership focuses on the exemplary, the best practices and positive attributes of the heroic man (and it’s almost always a man) on that mythical white horse. The idea of bad leadership is that there are lessons to be learned by examining leaders who have not effectively exercised their power, authority or influence.

Book to Read

Bad Leadership: What it is, How it happens, Why it Matters
by Barbara Kellerman (2004)

Quick Take from the Book

According to Kellerman, there are seven types of bad leadership:

  1. Incompetent (where the leader lacks the skill or will to be effective).
  2. Rigid (where the leader is unwilling to adapt or change).
  3. Intemperate (where the leader lacks self control).
  4. Callous (where the leader is uncaring or unkind and ignores the needs and wishes of the group).
  5. Corrupt (where the leader lies, steals or cheats).
  6. Insular (where the leader disregards the welfare of those outside the group).
  7. Evil (where the leader commit atrocities or uses pain as an instrument of power).

Quote of Note

"Placing bad leadership along two different axes – ineffective and unethical – clarifies how the word bad is being used…It’s possible for leaders, and followers, to be simultaneously effective and unethical and it’s also possible for leaders, and followers, to be simultaneously ethical and ineffective." –p. 219 

Related Styes: Toxic Leadership 

Return to List of Leadership Styles