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The Destruction of the Absentee Leader

What is an absentee leader?

An absentee leader is someone in a leadership position who is psychologically absent from their responsibilities as a leader.  They are known as the “silent killers.”

Here are some characteristics of an absentee leader:

  • Psychologically absent from their staff.
  • Take value out of an organization without contributing back.
  • These leaders are laissez-faire (to let people do as they choose)
  • Don’t show up to meetings, unresponsive to emails, gives zero feedback and doesn’t share important information with employees.
  • Seldom engage with staff.

Organizations rarely confront the absentee leaders.  If left unobserved they can halt succession planning, block potential staff from promoting and cause unproductively in the workplace.  Those who report to them may become frustrated which has a negative impact on the employees and the work environment.

Teams with absent supervisors often feel they have no direction, are unrecognized, neglected and overlooked without any clear goals, guidance, and feedback.  Employees don’t develop under an absentee leader.

The Destruction of the Absentee Leader:

  • Degrades the employee’s job satisfaction
  • Leads to job performance uncertainty
  • Employee’s stress levels and talents are drained

As long as the absentee leader has an employee who will pick up the slack this behavior will continue.  The absentee leader enjoys the perks and entitlements of their title but isn’t doing the job.  This type of leadership style is destructive. The hard-working employee’s who are actually doing the work aren’t receiving the support, recognition, or crucial feedback.  The absentee leader accepts credit when things are going right and pushes blame on staff when things are not.

If you recognize an absentee leader in your organization or within yourself. Here are a few tips to encourage behavioral change in this leadership style.

Companies don’t always see the effects of this type of leadership style until the damage has already occurred.


Recognize the absentee leader within your organization or inside yourself and address the situation.  Employees want a leader who is there for them.  Staff follow a leader who will coach, train, motivate, recognize their accomplishments and help them to succeed.

Have you experienced an absentee leader?  If yes, What was it like?





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2 thoughts on “The Destruction of the Absentee Leader

  1. I have worked for organisations where the manager did not appear to be interested in what we were doing. But they enjoyed taking credit for the employees work

  2. Hi Anita – Thank you for sharing. This leadership style appears to be happening within companies and leadership. If Leaders share the credit their employees this would be motivated, inspired and feel appreciated. 🙂 I will be addressing this particular topic (Taking credit for employees work) in a future post called “The Draining of Vampire Leadership” on October 30, 2018.

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