Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Three Signs of Toxic Leadership

I've had bosses that have hit on me. Others that have told me all about their sex lives - in excruciating detail - while I desperately try not to: (a) laugh, (b) shudder, (c) check my Facebook page in embarrassment.

Or there was the Emotionally Needy Boss, who was mostly upset that we weren't best friends or drinking buddies. I had to constantly validate that he was doing a good fantastic job (yes, that meeting was amazing! It was the cream of the crop of all meetings of all time!). Talk about draining.

But the worst has been the Robot. To call in sick more than a couple of times was to be threatened with termination. She relished the chance to publicly berate employees for minor faults. She was the poster-child for toxic leadership.

Why? People lived in constant fear of making a mistake (she didn't tolerate lateness, distractions, talking, or complaints). Ideas were shut-down almost immediately. The workplace stifled creativity, or originality.

I once got a text message saying, quite simply, that so-and-so had been fired. The subtext: we better watch-out! 
Needless to say: turnover was frequent and job satisfaction was very low.

Three Signs of Toxic Leadership

1. It's all about the power: bullying, and public humiliation seem to be the primary way of interacting with and "leading" subordinates.

The Robot boss was quick to anger, and was showed no restraint in criticising employees in front others.

2. Selfishness: they're often very self-focused, inconsiderate of others, and striving for more for themselves. In fact, they could be good-old-fashioned narcissists.

The Robot boss did not understand that people could be sick, or could have cars break-down, or children fall ill. Instead of responding with empathy, she would list the inconveniences to herself and threaten to fire - she made people feel beneath her, and replaceable.

3. They're destructive: according to research, they can foster a negative image of the organization, especially among employees, and are possibly contributing to higher turnover, negative culture, and job dissatisfaction.
Under the Robot boss, staff turnover was frequent, and staff were both uncooperative and became equally as petty in their behavior as their toxic boss. They would count work done in minutes, and consider any minor activity done outside of work hours as billable.They would act selfishly: wasting clients time, and focus on the advantage that they could gain in coworker relationships. 

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