4 Signs You're on Your Way to Being a Toxic Boss

4 Signs You're on Your Way to Being a Toxic Boss

John Eades 02/11/2018 6

Imagine being physically and mentally disturbed by the thought of walking into work. This is the reality for too many employees, and it primarily stems from the incapable leaders they work under every day. These leaders treat others poorly, placing far too much emphasis on their own well-being. Their lethargic attitude about their role is directly and detrimentally linked to the growth potential of their team.

People seldom find an opportunity that lets them take control of a toxic work environment. The fear of unemployment is stronger than the prospect of a new, more empowering opportunity. Under the direction of a less-than-stellar boss, it is near impossible for a person to reach their maximum potential.

In my own work assessing thousands of managers, there is a never-ending supply of individuals who are tone-deaf to their leadership abilities. They place no value on, nor do they ask for, feedback from their team. Without the opinions of their direct reports and peers, they are able to easily avoid the truth about their performance. Additionally, some leaders think far too highly of themselves, as they cannot fathom the idea that the way they lead is not "the best." This is a classic case of pride and ego clouding someone's judgment.

Regardless if you fall into this bucket or not, here are some of the warning signs when its time to address your leadership skill set.

1. No One Can Do Your Job as Well as You

No matter who completes it, you are constantly redoing the work of others. From finding simple errors to having a different vision for the project, nothing is good enough in your eyes. Things have escalated to the point that your team has given up on contributing, as they know you will alter or revamp their work altogether.

One of the primary jobs of a leader is to allow their direct reports the freedom to flourish, resulting in their best work. Micromanagement instantly disables this. Provide a work environment that allows people to innovate and succeed by setting clear standards. Instead of stepping in to complete tasks for them, coach your employees through the process. Through this, you will build the skills necessary in your people to elevate their work to reach the set standards.

2. Your Top Team Members are Leaving

A recent Gallup study showed 75 percent of employees who voluntarily left their jobs did so because of their bosses. It is something I have seen happen over and over again at companies we work with at LearnLoft. Regardless of how the employee feels about their position itself, they just do not see a way around their bad boss. These talented, hard-working people are pushed to their wits' end instead of being supported and developed.

Author and pastor Andy Stanley said, "Leaders who don't listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say." The best place to start if you have come to the realization that you are forcing people out of your workplace is with intentional listening.

3. You Resent Your Job

With leadership comes enormous responsibility. You are not only expected to perform your own job but to help your direct reports improve as well. The latter can cause some people to resent their position of power. It is no secret that managing people can be difficult. This often leads to miscommunication, incorrectly reading situations, and a slow-burning resentment. 

Being a leader is not a natural course of progression for everyone. It is, however, something anyone can succeed at if they are diligent enough. Take the time to seriously evaluate whether your current role is one that is truly right for you. Ask yourself as if you are sitting on a plane in an exit row and must answer to: "Are you willing and able to assist in the case of an emergency?"

4. You are the Only One Allowed to Make Decisions

Even the people who are ego driven and thrive on the feeling of power get exhausted over time in having to make every important decision. At the core of leadership is empowering other people. Decision making is one of the best ways to empower other people.

If you are having to make every decision, start small and give away power so others can use the thing they were hired for, their brain.

If you find yourself struggling with some of these signs, know it doesn't have to stay this way. You are the only one who can make the necessary changes to ensure you don't become a bad boss. Find ways to work on your leadership skills as often as possible.

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  • Randy Dugan

    It's never too early to learn how to be a better boss.

  • Luke Chamberlain

    if you're not going to be easily reachable, you should balance this out by not being aloof.

  • Eric Moore

    Great post

  • Scott Dupree

    Ignoring problems and using quick fixes will make people run away from you.....

  • Ryan Wright

    Negativity affects employees' performance longer and more profoundly than the positive responses generated by more constructive managers !

  • Nirvik Mahin

    We should connect with employees as human first and a boss second by displaying warmth, compassion and understanding.

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John Eades

Leadership Expert

John is the CEO of LearnLoft, author of, F.M.L. Standing Out & Being a Leader and host of the 'Follow My Lead' Podcast. He writes or has been featured on Inc.com, LinkedIn Pulse, TrainingIndustry.com, eLearningIndustry.com, CNBC Money, and more. John completed his education at the University of Maryland College. 

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