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  • Writer's pictureReggie James

The Benefits of Bad Leadership

Having worked in and with scale-up businesses throughout my career, I’ve seen many inexperienced leaders and some downright BAD leaders. The scale-up environment can often attract ruthless people, and the fast ride and promise of wealth can create an ‘at any costs’ mentality that is harmful.

Many people believe lousy leadership is always detrimental to an organization, and I once felt this way too. However, terrible leadership can lead to positive outcomes for organizations.

While typically seen as a negative attribute, research has found that bad leaders sometimes create a sense of urgency and motivate employees to work harder. While having a bad leader in charge is not desirable, several other benefits can come from them.

Overlooked benefits of lousy leadership.

In any organization, a few bad leaders will do more harm than good. However, lousy leadership also has its benefits.

  • A bad leader is more likely to take risks, which can lead to innovative ideas.

  • A bad leader can be a scapegoat for everything that goes wrong. Doing so can help to shield the rest of the team from criticism and help to ensure that everyone is working together towards a common goal.

  • A bad leader can be a motivator. By putting everyone in a difficult situation and watching them struggle, a lousy leader can push people to do their best.

  • A bad leader can help weed out a team's weak links. By forcing people to work in a challenging environment, a bad leader can help to identify those who are not willing to make the necessary sacrifices to be successful.

Destructive leadership can lead to disaster, but it can also lead to success.

There are countless examples of bad leadership leading to disaster, but there are also successful examples of bad leadership. Let's take the extreme example of Saddam Hussein, who led his country to disaster. A ruthless, brutal, murderous dictator, who no one would argue was a good leader, did generate some good outcomes. Today, many believe that he helped to stabilize the middle east region.

Destructive leadership can teach us important lessons.

We can learn essential lessons from bad leaders. Sometimes these lessons can be tough to learn, but they can be precious.


One of the most important lessons that lousy leadership can teach us is the importance of communication. When a leader is ineffective, communication is often one of the first things to break down, leading to many problems in the organization.


Another lesson that lousy leadership can teach us is the importance of teamwork. When a leader is ineffective, it can often lead to division in the team. The results are inefficiencies and damage to the organization.


Bad leadership also teaches us the importance of accountability. When a leader is ineffective, it often leads to a lack of responsibility, which can cause many problems in the organization.


Finally, bad leadership can teach us the importance of values. When a leader is ineffective, it often exposes the organization's lack of values. While this can lead to a lot of unethical behavior in the organization, it provides a clear opportunity for improvement.

These lessons are fundamental, and we can learn them from lousy leadership, and my experience is that scaleups learn these lessons the hard way.

Are you looking to scale your business? Scaleup Culture is the book for you! Reginald James's guide provides tools and techniques to grow your Scaleup team. Pre-order your copy today, or sign up for a FREE advance review copy.

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