Lists of Toxic Leadership Traits

Discrimination is a common trait of leaders, indicating that they do not value diversity. They tend to surround themselves with people of similar backgrounds and outlooks. Damian Hughes’s description: “a discriminatory leader surrounds himself with ‘truth tellers’ and ‘time tellers. These are not bringing anything to the team and are not providing value.


One of the toxic leadership traits includes inflexibility that is detrimental to any startup. It may impede a project’s advancement and negatively affect the entire team’s performance. Communication may become challenging as a result. Integrating each team member’s many viewpoints and strengths is the secret to success, as good leaders are aware.

Leaders with inflexibility and rigidity of principles often fail to understand how they can meet their employees’ needs. They often rely on procedures that aren’t always the best solutions and don’t allow flexibility. 

Consequently, their teams fail to reach their full potential. These leaders are also prone to a lack of emotional intelligence.

Toxic leaders are often irritable and despise feedback. They lack self-control and tend to act on impulse. They also tend to be overly competitive with their employees. Lastly, they have low self-confidence, making the workplace volatile and tense. As a result, employees often feel undervalued and unappreciated by these types of leaders.

Lack of confidence

Lack of confidence is a toxic leadership trait that hinders teamwork and encourages competition. It often leads to workplace division and the use of the disciplinary system. This trait also makes leaders feel insecure, which in turn leads them to act in ways that are counterproductive and even harmful.

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This trait is often visible in a leader’s inability to give up control which is detrimental to teamwork because leaders with this characteristic aren’t likely to trust their subordinates, which can erode trust in their team. 

Moreover, leaders with a lack of confidence often worry about their image in the eyes of upper management and don’t take the necessary steps to make decisions that would benefit their team.

Leaders must cultivate a network of people around them to counteract this trait. To do this, leaders should be open to constructive criticism. Otherwise, they won’t improve.


Discrimination, indifference, and a failure to embrace diversity are all traits of toxic leaders. Due to absenteeism, reduced productivity, and legal costs, these traits can cost their organizations millions of dollars annually. They also pose a severe health risk because they can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and other life-threatening conditions. Fortunately, most toxic leaders can be identified by their subordinates.

Toxic leaders have a difficult time admitting their mistakes. 

To make matters worse, they often gaslight others by blaming others for their mistakes. These leaders don’t have self-confidence and become aggressive to cope. They can also be highly intolerant of ideas and opinions that don’t align with their own. These traits can result in an environment filled with discontent and unethical behavior and may even drive good employees away.

Lack of adaptability

If you want to succeed in leadership, you need to be adaptable. Adaptability is one of the most critical competencies in emotional intelligence. Unfortunately, when they meet a successful leader, many people try to emulate them. They think this will help them become more successful. But the truth is that such leaders may have compromised to achieve success.

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A leader that lacks adaptability is likely to struggle to meet the changing demands of their organization. Companies must adapt to remain competitive in a world that is changing quickly. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “what is narrow wears out quickly.” Leaders must be flexible to reach their goals.

Lack of diversity in communication

One of the most common mistakes of toxic leaders is that they don’t understand the importance of diversity in communication, which means they can’t communicate with their team meaningfully. Leaders must learn to speak their employees’ language to create a diverse culture. As a result, adaptable communication is one of the essential traits of a great leader.