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  • Writer's pictureBahar Önderol

Dealing with Toxic Leaders

How to Deal with Toxic Leaders at Work

It's no secret that great leaders inspire their teams, but what about those who do just the opposite? According to a Gallup study;

  • a whopping 65% of employees place their stress squarely on the shoulders of their managers.

  • a staggering 75% believe that managers are the main culprits behind workplace alienation and

  • an astonishing 20% confess to secretly wishing for their managers' departure!

Imagine working alongside a 'mission impossible' manager – a scenario we've all faced at some point in our careers. They create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, where employees feel undervalued, and their voices are silenced. There was a manager in my life that I had a hard time tolerating. I still remember the advice of my colleagues: "If you don't want to become their 14th victim, steer clear!" I managed to safeguard my sanity by switching departments.


Unfortunately, these problematic leaders are often unaware of the harm they are creating, and those who are aware often justify their actions and avoid seeking help. I recommend those who have to work with such leaders to read the book "Living with Difficult Personalities" by @François Lelord and @Christophe Andre. This book offers guidance appropriate to different personality types, providing guidance on managing and influencing the behaviour of challenging individuals in professional and personal domains.


The question is, why do we allow these toxic leaders to thrive and continue to wield power? Why do organizations turn a blind eye to their toxic behaviours? I think the answer lies in a combination of factors, including fear of confrontation, lack of awareness, and a misguided belief that these leaders are somehow delivering results.


Toxic leadership is a pervasive issue that can severely damage an organization's morale, productivity, and reputation. So, what to do? How to deal with toxic leaders at work? Here are my thoughts on some steps that can be taken to transform toxic leadership:

🔒Foster a culture of psychological safety, where employees feel comfortable voicing their concerns and reporting toxic behaviours. Encourage open dialogue and provide anonymous channels for reporting incidents.

🎓Provide Training and Coaching that focus on emotional intelligence and communication skills, to help them overcome their destructive tendencies.

🔨Implement Consequences! If a leader continues to show toxic behaviors, it's essential to implement consequences. It's vital to show that no one is above the organization's code of conduct, no matter their position.

🤝Provide Support to Affected Employees! This support could include counselling services, stress management workshops, or simply providing a listening ear.

HR Managers have a responsibility to curb Toxic Leadership issue and foster a healthier, more productive work environment. By implementing these strategies, you can make significant strides towards eliminating toxic leaders and promoting positive leadership styles within your organizations.


Share your thoughts and experiences. Let's discover what we can do to create a healthier and more effective business world together!


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