The problems of Napoleon's man management was that there was no clear line of command among his Marshals and Generals. Power was not efefctively delegated to subordinates to enable them to function effetcively. He encoruaged squabbling, and to function they needed arbietration of their master, and that's they way Napoleon chose to set it up. The Whole apapratus of the Empure and Army was over centralized into Napoleon's person. Nothing really worked when he was not Present. Some nobody like Malet could start a coup in France in 1812. The Back areas of 1812 where chaotic. The organization of army for the 1813 campaign needed Napoleon. The whole Spanish campaign with divided commands and petty squabbling. In 1813 none of the other Generals were resourced so they could achieve anything, and Napoleon danced to the coalition tune snapping from one threat to another. Really Schwartzenberg was over cautious and Blucher overbold, both cartoonish so and well known by this stage, both could be countered on to perform to type. Really distracting Schwartzenberg crush Blucher was the obvious move.Well, sure, Kulm was too small of an encounter to end the war on its own, but considering the surrounding circumstances it may have saved the war for the Coalition, as Lieven argues. The parts of VanDamme's command that did not directly become casualties were scattered to the four winds and we don't know how many actually made it back to their commands.
Harassing an enemy with its tail between its legs is precisely what causes something like the bridge incident to happen. Harassment like this is to strike panic into one's opponents and cause them to do things inimical to their cause. It need not have this kind of specific goal in mind beforehand and it almost never does.
The lack of Napoleon's presence was an issue for his marshals when they were sent on independent commands in 1813, sure. This was the shadow that loomed over their defeats at Katzbach, Kulm, Dennewitz, etc. However, it was an advantage for the main army directly under his command, probably about 200-250,000 strong, and it was certainly an advantage for his forces engaged at Leipzig, about 200,000. He was also no Schwarzenberg and so that's an advantage as well. Schwarzenberg's moves here (and at Dresden) weren't even always stuck in the last century; they were foolish by those standards, too.
Might I also add that it was Napoleon's own problem that he gave independent commands in the Autumn of 1813 to those like Ney, MacDonald, and Oudinot, and yet completely under-utilized better commanders such as Davout and St. Cyr? Napoleon didn't need to have Davout to administer Hamburg, and he didn't need 40,000 men for it either. Napoleon also certainly didn't need to leave 35,000 men in Dresden under St. Cyr when Leipzig was about to be fought.
As for the stragglers who were picked up after Leipzig, consider that there were probably at least 160,000 French troops fighting at Leipzig (with the remaining 30-40,000 in Napoleon's army being satellite allies, with 5,000 deserting during battle and 30,000 being captured or deserting after battle). Only about half this number of French troops ultimately ended up making their way back to France, at least before peace came.
Napoleon kept appionting his friends and formaily to high office and maintaining them despite repested failures. Murat. Jerome. The myth is that Napoloen's empire was some Meritocracy well the worst examples of Nepotism in the period are Napoleon's appointments. Arch Duke Constantine was dedicated Miliatry man, not that bright, but non one was about to grant Constantine much responsibility, and when a long military career really only marginally promoted above his meirts. If after 15 years of running an Empire of meriotiactic system of generals and some allagedly great standrad of command staff ssystem why were there so few competnets available in 1813-1815 and the absence of Dvaout and Berrhier is talked about so much?