Top Ten Marks of Lousy Leaders

Image source

David Lewis, co-author of The Pin Drop Principle, told me he was exposed to poor leadership when he was in his early twenties.

“Back then everything was a race and all that mattered was the numbers. In that context customers are statistics.” Lewis explained.

It’s been over a month since our conversation and I’m still thinking about the damage poor leaders wreak on others. David said, “They didn’t teach me the importance of working together.”

It’s about attitude:

In politics, Bill Clinton said, “It’s the economy, stupid.” In leadership it’s the attitude, stupid.

Lousy leadership begins with self-protective attitudes not lack of skills, intelligence, or talent.

Lousy leaders:

  1. Need to know more than others.
  2. Can’t explore for fear of being wrong.
  3. Won’t ask obvious questions for fear of looking dumb.
  4. Need their egos stroked.
  5. Wonder who’s out to get them.
  6. Fear high performers; they need the spotlight.
  7. Struggle to collaborate.
  8. Won’t change their minds.
  9. Feel isolated and alone.
  10. Sacrifice long-term success for short-term profits.

Lousy leaders can’t serve others because they serve themselves.


All leaders screw up. But great leaders possess right attitudes even when they fall short.

  1. Humility.
  2. Optimism.
  3. Curiosity.
  4. Endurance.
  5. Tenacity.
  6. Compassion.
  7. Responsibility.

Leaders matter most when they help others learn to help others.

Lewis said he’d learned that “success is not just about the numbers.” It’s a challenging statement because numbers matter. Skill, talent, and intelligence also matter. Attitude matters most.

What bad attitudes do bad leaders possess?

What leadership attitudes do you most admire?