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Toxic Leadership

If you are a leader in an organization and you are losing employees, it could be possible that you are the cause. Exactly there is a 70% chance, according to a Gallup study (1).

Employees quit in 70% of the cases because of their manager. If three people under your supervision have left, chances are, one of them has left the company, and two have left you. They won’t tell you that, but they will tell their partner, friends, family, and professionals like me. I work day in and day out with burnt-out clients suffering or having suffered under a toxic manager.

They had to leave the company and they had a good reason to do so:

A toxic boss has a direct influence on the health of their employees. A Swedish study (2) has found that bad leadership exposes employees to a 50% more risk of cardiovascular disease. A toxic boss can be literally lethal.

It’s not just the Gallup Study or the clients I work with. Three persons in my immediate circle have suffered a toxic boss last year. Yesterday I saw a toxic boss scolding an employee in an insurance company. In front of me! He saw my face and corrected his behavior immediately, but imagine the situation when nobody is looking. You know intuitively that the numbers are real. Bad bosses are in the conversations you have with colleagues, family, and friends.

It’s everywhere. And it has to stop.

My point: If you are a leader, you have a huge responsibility. Your employees will not tell you that you are a toxic boss, because they fear the consequences. They will simply quit when they find a way out. That’s why the talented ones leave faster: They have more options. So, if you are losing employees, start questioning your behavior and your leadership skills, or the leadership skills of the manager of the teams that are losing people.

Do something about it. In many professions, it is mandatory to be trained in order to protect the security and health of the people. Make an external assessment. Train yourself on how to treat employees. And train your managers too. Workshops or studying for a master's degree are informative, but won’t fix the problem. It’s behavioral training that best works, done one-to-one or in small groups.

Have you seen the psychological or physical health of a friend affected by a toxic boss?

Are you losing employees and you don’t know the reason?

Tell me in the comments.

(1)„Managers Account for 70% of Variance in Employee Engagement“ Gallup. BY RANDALL BECK AND JIM HARTER. BUSINESS JOURNAL. APRIL 21, 2015

(2) Nyberg A, Alfredsson L, Theorell T, Westerlund H, Vahtera J, Kivimäki M. Managerial leadership and ischaemic heart disease among employees: the Swedish WOLF study. Occup Environ Med. 2009 Jan;66(1):51-5. doi: 10.1136/oem.2008.039362. Epub 2008 Nov 27. Erratum in: Occup Environ Med. 2009 Sep;66(9):640. PMID: 19039097; PMCID: PMC2602855.

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