There have been countless books written on the subject of business leadership, and when you study a large enough cross-section of executives, you start to notice distinctive patterns in the kind of minds that lead to either success or failure. Here, we’ll go over some of the common psychological traits of poor leaders. Be aware of these in yourself, and make sure you don’t let them spiral out of control.

Confirmation bias

The best leaders in business are realists. They see people, companies, and the world as they truly are, then take action to improve anything they possibly can. Poor leaders, on the other hand, never even set a foundation for this approach. This is because they have the bad psychological habit of interpreting objective facts as either true or false, based on their subjective opinion. A CEO with his head in the right place, for example, will catch wind of an emerging, disruptive technology, see how the business needs to adapt, and then put a plan into action. A CEO with harmful confirmation bias, on the other hand, will tell themselves this technology is nothing to worry about until it’s all too late.

Cognitive dissonance

Effective business leaders embrace information that may help them make smarter decisions. Weak leaders, on the other hand, get irritated when the same information demands that they need to change their management style to new conditions. Flexibility to changes within the company and its larger industry are essential for great business leaders. One quintessential trait of poor leaders is an insistence on employing the same old strategies after they’ve become ineffective.


Self-confidence is a trait that everyone needs to move up the corporate ladder. However, it’s integral for business leaders to ensure their self-confidence is always supported by self-awareness. Effective leaders should be acutely aware of the limits of both their strengths and their weaknesses, and how these apply to keeping the company on-track with their long-term goals. This will allow them to embark on projects with the right balance of ambition and realism, which the entire workforce can get behind. Weak leaders, on the other hand, let their confidence consume them. This leads to them overestimating their strengths, and going into denial about their weaknesses. This, in turn, leads them to set bloated and unrealistic goals for their organisation. Ostensibly, the employees working under these kinds of leaders might believe in them, but they rarely do.

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