4 Warning Signs of a Toxic Leader


It’s safe to assume that few, if any, leaders wake up every day and say, “Today, I’m going to make my employees’ lives as miserable as possible.”

And yet we have all known or experienced a toxic boss. So how do leaders go from good intentions to completely damaging their team’s morale?

Here’s one of the biggest reasons: thoughtlessness. That’s right — whether you realize it or not, your people are paying close attention to your mood and behavior, no matter how subtle.

Leaders like to assume that they are more motivating than annoying or scary, but a self-assessment can help you definitively determine if you are showing positive leadership.

If you’re a leader curious about where you fall on the good boss/bad boss spectrum, here are four signs you may be slipping into toxic behavior.

Your people are afraid to speak up

In a healthy workplace, employees are encouraged to speak up, make suggestions, and speak openly about any issues or concerns they may have. So one red flag that things are going wrong is when people stop talking.

Accordingly Harvard Business Review Hemant Kakkar and Subra Tangirala, if you find your team not speaking up, it’s your culture to blame. One reason, the researchers say, is that your work environment isn’t designed to be noisy. “They could fear incurring significant social costs by challenging their bosses.”

How could you contribute to this toxic culture? It could be something as simple as dismissing someone’s feedback during a meeting or discussing it with a team member when it raises an issue.

And it could also boil down to something as simple as not handing over the mic. In my formative company, it is important to me to encourage my employees to voice their ideas and opinions, both in face-to-face meetings and via video conferences. I have found that it gives employees the confidence to share and contribute more openly and without barriers.

Your team doesn’t trust you

This can be difficult for leaders. How do you know if your employees trust you? Here’s a scenario you might encounter: You walk into a room full of team members who are excitedly talking about their day. If they stop talking instead of including you in their conversation, it’s a clear sign that something is wrong.

So what are the key factors creating this distrust? On the one hand, a lack of interest in your employees as people. For example, you show a lack of appreciation for their life by not showing curiosity about who they are outside of work.

When people think of a trustworthy leader, they also think of someone who can own up to their mistakes.

It’s easy to talk about building a positive company culture, but failing to embody the values ​​you represent will only damage trust. In her book Restoring trust in the workplace, Dennis and Michelle Reina state that “the best thing you can do to help others take responsibility is to authentically practice the behaviors that you want others to practice. In other words, you have to walk the talk.”

Your behavior destroys motivation

Of all the temptations facing managers, micromanagement stands out. Sure, you don’t want to be toxic — you’re trying to help your employees be more efficient, help them manage their time. But guess what? Especially with top performers you do exactly the opposite.

in their enlightenment Harvard Business Review storyRebecca Knight notes that this habit is hard to break, and offers a clear example of how to figure out if you’ve fallen into the “control freak” camp: “If you’re the kind of boss who gets into details, prefer If emails are CCed and you’re rarely happy with your team’s work, then—there’s no nice way to say it—you’re a micromanager,” she writes.

To put this in relation to your effect: You create a significantly more stressful work environment, stifle creativity and promote burnout – all of a good boss should not do.

With all this advice, you might be thinking, “That’s well and good, but now that I know better, how can I change my habits?”

Here are a few lessons I’ve learned running my business for over a decade: You start by stepping back. It is vital for you as a manager that you trust and support your employees, rather than trying unnecessarily to monitor their every move. I know this can feel scary if you’re a perfectionist (like I tend to be), but keeping a close eye on your team will only derail their confidence and motivation. And, according to For Rebecca Knight, creating an awareness of why you engage in this type of behavior is the first step to changing it.

you don’t listen

I was once in an airport lobby where a businessman was talking loudly over a long phone conversation. I’m pretty sure we’ve all experienced that obnoxious attitude, whether it’s boarding a plane or sitting in a coffee shop. The thing is, the businessman rambled on and on, never pausing to catch his breath. I wondered what the person on the other end of the line must have been thinking.

It goes without saying: try not to be that guy. One of the biggest things toxic leaders have in common is that they just don’t listen. They love the sound of their own voice or don’t know when to stop.

Leaders who listen to understand build better connections and relationships. They develop a more engaged workforce and don’t lose the invaluable insights their teams have to offer.

Listening requires complete attention without interruptions; it requires patience and a desire to understand the other person’s point of view. In other words, it’s the ability to put your ego aside and encourage each team member to engage more in the conversation. Ultimately, these are some of the traits that all big bosses have in common.

Aytekin Tank is the founder of jot forman online form builder. 4 Warning Signs of a Toxic Leader


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