5 Frighteningly Bad Leadership Quotes

By December 29, 2022 March 20th, 2023 Articles on Leadership

Last Updated on March 20, 2023 by Dave Schoenbeck

There are many articles on being a good leader, but sometimes even the best leaders give terrible advice. There is no shortage of poor leadership quotes on the Internet, although they’re not always easy to identify at first glance.

Have you ever been taken in by these bad leadership quotes?

A young manager covers his eyes with his hands as he hears bad leadership quotes

Ineffective Leadership Quotes

  1. “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” Henry David Thoreau

While on the surface, this quote suggests the power of dreaming big, even your most significant ideas should start with a firm foundation. A good leader doesn’t take baseless risks when his employees’ livelihoods are on the line. Thinking outside the box is good, but you should have evidence for why and how an idea will work before you dedicate time and resources.

  1. “If you really want the key to success, start by doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing.” Brad Szollose

This might not seem to belong with other bad leadership quotes at first. Leaders are often encouraged to stand out from the crowd. We can learn much from what our competitors and mentors are doing well. Take what works and innovate the rest, but there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.

  1. “Being a leader is making the people you love hate you a little more each day.” Patrick Ness

Any leader is bound to make unpopular decisions occasionally, but you’re doing something wrong if you consistently prompt hatred from those closest to you. A good leader can communicate the how and why to those around him so there can be understanding and respect, even when others don’t agree with his solutions.

  1. “Success is often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.”- Coco Chanel

Some bad leadership quotes, like this one, masquerade as aspirational. A leader might never anticipate failure, but knowing that it can happen to anyone is essential. I don’t know of any leader who hasn’t had their share of failures, and we should keep them in mind so we don’t repeat our past mistakes. Those experiences are how we mature and grow.

  1. “Leadership involves finding a parade and getting in front of it.” – John Naisbitt

This might be the worst of the bad leadership quotes. If you get in front of people already going somewhere without you, you’re not leading—you’re just taking credit for your employees’ initiative. On the other hand, there are no shortcuts to meaningful leadership, and some of the best leaders show from behind.

Do these frighteningly bad leadership quotes haunt you? Or worse, do they seem like great quotes to you? As a business coach, I provide free weekly articles to help you avoid falling prey to useless leader quotes. Sign up for my mailing list and have fresh perspectives on leadership delivered to your email inbox weekly.

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