We’ve all had them—and some of us may have been one. Toxic managers. The manager who makes you want to call in sick. The one who causes your blood pressure to rise every time you see an email from him. The one who can make you miserable at home because you’re thinking about how much you don’t want to go to work the next day.
So what can you do if you have a toxic leader? Are you destined to work in misery until one of you quits or gets fired? Absolutely not! Below are suggestions to help you navigate these treacherous waters.
Address the problem
I have trained and coached thousands of leaders around the globe, and I can honestly say that most toxic leaders truly do not understand the impact of their behavior (or even that they would be considered a toxic leader). Yes, they may know that they have upset people. But do they truly understand why? If you feel safe giving them feedback, here are some steps to follow:
- Explain that the intent of the feedback is to improve your relationship, team performance, etc., or use the catch-all “I know you care about the team/company….”
- Describe the specific behavior, such as “Your voice grew loud when you told me about the errors.” This will cause less defensiveness than a blanket statement such as “You acted like a bully.”
- Ask how you can help them change the behavior. This is especially effective if they do not realize that they are doing things to offend others.
- Follow up with support and positive encouragement if you have seen a behavior change.
Learn their communication style
Miscommunication leads to mistrust—and mistrust leads to bad behavior as we try to protect ourselves from what we perceive is a threat....
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