Some people are great at leadership. They manage everything that comes their way. They keep track of all the important stuff, such as what team members are working on (in general terms). If people seem to disappear for a bit, they get in contact and give them a gentle nudge back into work. If others need to temporarily put down their responsibilities for any reason; these good leaders step in and either take their tasks on, or find someone else who can. If new tasks appear, good leaders delegate; or arrange new recruits. Good leaders might not actually do any particular task; but they take responsibility for the whole, and make sure the project runs as close to schedule as possible.
Good leaders are worth their weight in gold, so to speak.
Then there are the bad leaders. Who are much more interesting to study, unless you're working for them or with them.
There are all sorts of reasons why someone might be a bad leader. Perhaps they were forced into a leadership role when they'd rather just be a worker. Perhaps they chose the position for the glory perks. Perhaps they usually are a good leader who has taken on too many tasks, and has lowered the priority of this project. Knowing the "how" can help you push a mediocre leader towards becoming a good leader (if you're very lucky, and good with people). What makes someone a bad leader can vary as well. Perhaps they micro-manage too much, until noone tells them anything. Or maybe they don't pay any attention to what others are doing (failing to lead at all) until some catastrophe happens. Perhaps they just assume that everyone will take care of their own problems.
Good leaders often inspire loyalty and commitment. In return they reward their followers with recognition, praise and glory. Bad leaders inspire discontent and apathy even when they share the glory. Good leaders remember to reward and thank the helpers behind the scenes, bad leaders might only reward those they liked.
Good leaders are fun to work with. Bad leaders are people you want to flee from. Both can be found in all types of leadership roles. Open source project leads, school principals, bosses...
The really hard bit is if you are a generally good leader, trying to follow a bad one. Particularly when the position is voluntary one and the only reward is knowing you did a job well. Such a position leaves you with only a handful of options:
In the past I've tried leading from the side-lines. It's worked extremely well for the project, but no so well for my health. Running a business, and working almost full time on other volunteer projects tends to take its toll on my sleep, relationships and general happiness.
Recently I decided to try the option of "dealing with it". The project I'm thinking of includes many clueful people. They have relevant experience, the leader has done it all before. Unfortunately that hasn't made it easier. Even with experience, bad leaders still stuck.
Feel free to add your stories below.