8 Top Leadership Weaknesses and Ways To Improve Them

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated June 22, 2022 | Published February 25, 2020

Updated June 22, 2022

Published February 25, 2020

This article has been approved by an Indeed Career Coach

When a leader demonstrates a poor work ethic, a lack of motivation or a lack of trust in their teams, it can lead to a disorganized workplace. These types of traits are also considered leadership weaknesses, especially if a team leader fails to acknowledge and work on improving their weaknesses. If, as a leader, you feel you might have some of these leadership weaknesses, there are several strategies to help you improve and build strengths from your weaknesses.

In this article, we explore what leadership weaknesses are and how you can take steps to improve and turn your weaknesses into strengths.

Related: Top 8 Leadership Styles - Definitions & Examples

In this video, Jenn, an Indeed Career Coach, explains the top leadership styles in management and how to identify the one that's right for you and your team.

What are leadership weaknesses?

Leadership weaknesses are traits that a leader may have that can result in negative actions and relationships in the workplace. Traits like micromanaging, inconsistency, a lack of awareness and other similar qualities can be attributed to weaknesses in leadership skills.

While having a weakness in a leadership skill set may not be a positive idea, it can lead to recognition and a path to improvement. Leadership weaknesses can be strengthened and developed with consistent practice and a motivation to learn.

Read more: 7 Ways To Improve Your Leadership Strengths

Types of leadership weaknesses

Several leadership weaknesses can relate to specific skillsets while other weaknesses might relate to a leadership style. Traits like a lack of trust in their teams or being overly critical of their teams can be considered leadership weaknesses. In addition to these traits, the following can be symptomatic of leadership weaknesses:

  • Separating or standing apart from your team

  • Being overly critical

  • Micromanaging employees

  • Requiring constant contact

  • Acting without integrity

  • Failing to set clear expectations

  • Failing to set clear goals or objectives

  • Providing ineffective feedback

Separating or standing apart from your team

Appearing to stand apart from your team in a way that places you above them can make you come across as arrogant and unconcerned about your team's needs. Employees oftentimes like to know that their leaders are on their side, that they care and that they value the work of their teams. Separating yourself from your team in this way can run the risk of employee distress and lack of trust in you as their leader and can impact your relationships with your peers and subordinates.

Being overly critical

Leaders who are overly critical of their teams and subordinates may always find some aspect of an employee's performance, productivity or other quality that constantly needs criticism. This can lead to employee burn-out, disrespect for managers and a lack of motivation for achieving common goals. Leaders who use constant criticism may feel they are offering constructive feedback, however, constant criticism can be negative and risk employees feeling better off in a different workplace.

Micromanaging employees

Micromanaging refers to the process of constantly checking up on a team or employee to make sure they are doing what they should be doing, but in a way that demonstrates a lack of trust. Leaders who micromanage may be concerned with appearing authoritative or they may have a fear of losing control of the processes they manage. Leaders who micromanage their employees typically show a lack of confidence in their team's abilities to stay on task and meet objectives. This can result in a decrease in employee motivation and trust.

Requiring constant contact

Requiring constant communication from team members can be another leadership weakness. Technology and online connectivity make it easier than ever to stay in contact, but when leaders use this route to constantly check up on their employees, it can indicate a need to stay in control of what everyone is doing. This can ultimately lead to resentment and anxiety in the workplace.

Acting without integrity

Honesty and integrity are considered essential traits of an effective leader. However, when a leader acts without integrity or is dishonest in their communications, it can have a lasting impact on how their teams perceive them. Dishonesty and a lack of integrity can lead employees to lose respect and trust in their leaders.

Failing to set clear expectations

Failing to set clear expectations and boundaries is also considered a leadership weakness. Failing to set clear expectations of tasks that need to be completed, behavior in the workplace or setting clear boundaries of conduct can lead to a misunderstanding of what employees are expected to be doing. With no clear way to tell if they are meeting objectives, employees can become less motivated and less productive.

Failing to set clear goals or objectives

Unclear goals and objectives will also weaken a leader's team. Failure to set clear objectives of what needs to be done can lead to low-quality deliverables, risking employees becoming misaligned with business goals and increasing the risk of disorganization in the workplace. Additionally, leaving employees without a clear direction can cause confusion and misunderstanding among employees.

Providing ineffective feedback

Leadership weaknesses can also include not providing feedback that is constructive and helpful to an employee. Whether the feedback is for outstanding or inadequate work, a leader should be able to communicate the details of why and how the employee is excelling or potentially, falling short. Feedback should be quantifiable and with clear, actionable goals set for the future. There should be a schedule in place for evaluation. Without it, employees will not know when they are excelling or need to improve and will become unmotivated and likely discouraged.

Related: How To Become a Successful Team Leader

How to overcome leadership weaknesses

To overcome a leadership weakness, you should first identify the area of weakness that you feel needs improvement. Use the following steps to address your weaknesses:

  1. Identify the weakness

  2. Implement improvement strategies

  3. Ask for feedback

  4. Make adjustments

  5. Evaluate your progress

Read more: Leadership Skills: Definitions and Examples

1. Identify the weakness

The first step in turning leadership weaknesses into leadership strengths is to identify key areas needing improvement. For instance, you might ask your team for input to help you determine which leadership traits you might need to strengthen. It could be a trait of micromanaging or requiring constant status updates. Once you have identified key weaknesses, you can begin to implement improvement strategies that can help you strengthen your weaknesses into efficient skillsets.

2. Implement improvement strategies

Next, you might think about implementing an improvement plan or professional development goal to work toward. As an example, a leader with no drive or motivation might start by incorporating tasks and exercises to build motivation and rekindle a passion for their work. A team leader with a lack of trust in their employees might work on only assigning tasks at the beginning of a workday and asking for updates only as each project gets completed.

3. Ask for feedback

As you work toward improving your leadership skills, you can ask for feedback from your team and other managers in the workplace. For instance, you might ask for a comparison between how you were versus how you have improved, and you can ask for team input regarding any other areas of your leadership style that could be improved.

4. Make adjustments

As you receive feedback from your peers and subordinates, you can make adjustments to your improvement strategies to suit your development needs. For instance, if you are working on improving your need for constant contact with your team, you might adjust your strategy to include a weekly email update rather than a daily connection.

5. Evaluate your progress

During each phase of your improvement plan, you should be evaluating your growth and progress. Improvement is not instantaneous, and being consistent in your self-evaluations can keep you accountable for your professional development.

Related: Leadership Skills at Work - Southwest Airlines Employee

Wondering how to lead a team? Sometimes it's easiest to learn by example. Victoria, a Scrum Master for Southwest Airlines, shares the leadership qualities that helped her get the job.

Explore more articles