How to address and strengthen leadership weaknesses

Updated 24 August 2023

Weak leadership can be a frustration for many professionals, particularly if you're working for a manager who does not display the qualities we expect to see in a leader. Sometimes you may find yourself working for or alongside a manager who appears unable to motivate a team, doesn't demonstrate a strong work ethic or has a tendency to micromanage. You may also lack confidence in your own ability to lead. In this article, we address some of the most common leadership weaknesses and address how to strengthen your leadership abilities so that you can reach your full leadership potential.

Related: Leadership Roles: Definition And Examples

Why strengthen leadership weaknesses?

The strengths and weaknesses of any leader can make a big difference in how a person leads and learning how to strengthen leadership weaknesses can make them more effective. Leadership weaknesses are characteristics that can negatively impact both an individual and a business. On an individual level, a weak leader may not encourage the professional development of a team member or, worse, could micromanage a team making team members question their own abilities.

Common types of leadership weaknesses

If you want to strengthen your leadership weaknesses, it's important to first identify what those weaknesses are. Leadership weaknesses are prevalent in every industry and sector. In fact, the common types of leadership weaknesses are evident across many types of businesses and within many different types of people. Here are some of the most common leadership weaknesses to be aware of, if you're evaluating your own abilities as a leader:

Not being part of the team

Remaining separate from your team can give the impression that you're an unapproachable leader and don't want to integrate. This can have a negative effect on a team, as team members may not feel able to approach you about issues that they may be having, causing problems to escalate instead of being resolved. Not being an active leader may result in a higher turnover rate within your team or cause larger issues that impact output.

Related: Leadership debate: leaders are born vs. leaders are made

Being too critical

Constructive criticism is beneficial and can help your team develop and improve. Being overly critical can negatively impact the relationship you have with members of your team. There's usually a fine line between the two kinds of criticism. If you lean towards the latter, you may find that the attitude of your staff is not as positive as you would like. This can impact your team's productivity.


Micromanagement is when you don't give your team members the freedom to complete their work in their own way. It might manifest in daily check-ins to find out the progress of a project or consistently interrupting a team member's workflow to ask questions and give unsolicited suggestions. Micromanagement may reduce a team member's confidence. It also takes time away from your day. Micromanaging is another way to minimise the trust you and your team members have between one another and makes it hard to build rapport.

Related: Teamwork skills: Definition, types and tips for improvement

Requiring constant contact

Technology gives us numerous ways to contact team members. Being in constant contact can be a great disservice to a leader and can influence the team's perception of you. Constant communication from a manager can make team members anxious as if they're being watched. This experience can build resentment within a team.

Acting without integrity

A good leader is honest. If a team feels that their manager is acting in a dishonest way, it can mean that they lose motivation and respect for that individual. Having a lack of integrity as a leader or leading a team in a dishonest way can affect how a team views them. This affects any trust that an employee has with a manager and their ability to work effectively.

Not being clear

Being direct about what is going to happen, or is supposed to be happening, is fundamental for a good leader. Without it, you're may struggle to provide clear direction or a wider goal for the team. At worst, it can also mean that employees do the wrong thing, as ineffective communication can lead to misunderstanding. That has a material impact on a team's wider productivity and profitability as a result.

Not setting targets

One of the best ways to motivate a person is to give them targets. If those targets are clear, achievable and measurable, they're far more likely to try to achieve them. If targets are poorly defined, this can have a demotivating influence on an individual. By setting clear targets, you and your team know where both of you stand on certain projects. Each team member knows what their manager expects of them and is therefore far more likely to complete it.

Related: Areas for improvement to help with employee performance

Inefficient feedback

Accurate feedback is important for a manager. This ensures that if a misunderstanding arises, that the best possible outcome for the future is still possible. Ineffective feedback can impede that from happening. Constructive and helpful feedback is one of the most useful things a manager can do. Both positive and negative feedback is essential for professional development.

How to strengthen leadership weaknesses

At a company level, that type of behaviour has serious repercussions on a business's productivity. By not allowing a team to develop to their full potential, a leader misses out on what team members and the wider group as a whole can truly achieve. This could impact profitability. Developing a person and team is a key method for organisations to unlock efficiencies for the long term. Leaders who want to ensure that they're unlocking their full leadership potential can identify weaknesses and turn them into strengths. The best methods to do this include:

1. Identify the weakness

One of the best things you can do is be honest with yourself about what leadership strengths and weaknesses you may have. In doing so, you're able to begin turning your leadership weaknesses into leadership strengths. Be honest with yourself about what you could improve and areas where you do not feel confident. By naming them, you can then take constructive and proactive action to modify how you work as a leader.

Related: List of weaknesses: 10 things to say in an interview

2. Implement improvement strategies

Once you identify your leadership strength and weakness, it's essential that you think about the ways you can make changes to those traits that you no longer want to embody. Give yourself measurable targets and deadlines for implementing those changes too. If you struggle to motivate your team, for example, try to integrate team-building exercises with your employees where you're involved too. In doing so, you may be able to find out how each team member works so you can better find out how to motivate them in their day to day roles.

3. Ask for feedback

The best leaders listen to their team. It can be highly beneficial for you to ask your team directly for feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of your leadership and management. That could be part of a wider personal development review for yourself or with respect to the specific changes you're trying to make. If you nurture an honest, professional relationship between you, you may find that you're able to implement your changes far more quickly and easily.

Related: What is a performance review template? (4 templates to use)

4. Make adjustments

After receiving feedback, it's important to make adjustments to your own leadership strengths and weaknesses. You can make your team feel that you hear them and are open to listening to their opinions. When leaders do not listen to their team, it can act as a significant de-motivator. People usually feel valued and validated when someone hears them. Teams are more likely to put in more effort for a manager who listens to them and makes changes as a result.

5. Evaluate your progress

When you're implementing improvement strategies, you likely have set yourself a target for when these strategies are to be complete. Additionally, it's important to build in an evaluation step to the process to see whether those strategies are working or not. If your current efforts are not working, identify what you can do to modify them. Again, that could mean going back to your team for feedback, but also giving yourself yet another honest appraisal of your working habits.


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