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Toxic Leadership: 5 Ways to Identify a Bad Leader

if you have a leader who displays any of the toxic traits, it’s time to move on to greener pastures.

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Toxic leadership
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Let’s be honest, we’ve all crossed paths with a toxic leader in our careers at some point. Unfortunately, while some toxic leaders don’t even bother to hide their behaviour, some know very well how to conceal their true selves behind a strong-built facade. The latter is the most dangerous of the two.

They’re the ones you see managing the executive team well and playing the ‘I care about my staff and their wellbeing’ card. The ones who act like they’re all righteous, but behind closed doors, when no one is looking, off comes their mask, and out come the claws. 

This is where they belittle their staff, make unfair demands on them, and expect their staff to bow down to them like their god’s gift to the world. 

I had two leaders like this, one who would message you when you had your status as ‘Busy’ on Teams to ask if “you really were busy,” or if nature called, would time how long you took in the bathroom! 

The other asked why I took leave when a family member was extremely ill and in intensive care. Her argument: “My personal assistant has an ill father, and they still come to work.” 

Yes, b***, how dare I not come to work when my family member is fighting for life. I can’t imagine anything better than coming to work during such a time. 

A lot of toxic leaders, like the two above, often share the same common harmful traits, making it easy to identify them in the workplace –

1. Lack of Empathy

No surprise here, but most toxic leaders have a severe lack of empathy towards their staff. These staff members are usually the ones who have to report to them, not the ones that they have to report to. They rarely consider the personal challenges and concerns of those they lead, making employees feel undervalued and unsupported.

2. Playing favouritism

Toxic leaders only care about what’s in it for them. This means they only care about managing those at the higher executive leadership level. Why? Well, because who else is going to give them a lovely pay rise or promote them? 

They have zero care in the world for the staff who actually have to report to them unless it involves making them look good. This favouritism can lead to resentment and conflict within their teams and erode trust in their leadership. 

3. Micromanaging

Toxic leaders, more often than not, micromanage their teams, showing a lack of trust in their employees’ abilities. Take the earlier example about timing how long staff members are in the bathroom or watching their online Teams status like a hawk. 

Which, by the way, shows how you, as a leader, must have nothing better to do with your day. Unfortunately, such behaviour towards staff only stifles their creativity but also creates an atmosphere of anxiety amongst team members.

Great leaders are willing to sacrifice the numbers to save the people. Poor leaders sacrifice the people to save the numbers. – Simon Sinek

4. Resistance to feedback

Good leaders are open to feedback and actively seek opportunities for improvement. Toxic leaders, however, resist feedback and view any critique as a threat to their authority. This closed-minded approach stops the opportunity for team growth and innovation.  

5. Inconsistent behaviour

Inconsistent leadership is another common trait of toxic leaders. Toxic leaders display erratic behaviour and get caught up on things that carry very little or are of no importance. Take the same leader I mentioned in my earlier examples, who became obsessed with email signatures. 

As most of you would know, when you work across the same organisation, everyone has the same branding in their email signatures. Not rocket science, right?! Yet, for this particular toxic leader, they kept bringing up the topic of email signatures. 

Even after we told this leader that we all have identical email signatures across the organisation, they wanted us to call up various areas and ask them what they had in their email signature. 

When we said this would be of no value, given every area across the same organisation has the SAME email signature branding, they became erratic. Behaviour like this only amplifies the lack of competency of such a leader and only breeds discord across a team.

If you work in an organisation with a leader who displays such behaviours, the best advice I can give you is to get out of there. Do not wait for them ‘to change’ or for ‘things to get better.’ Toxic leaders rarely change their behaviours

Sure, they may get a warning or, if you’re lucky, get dismissed by HR. Still, unfortunately, there are many cases where, even with the many complaints about the toxic leader in question, they still get to hang around and continue to behave in such a manner. 

For your wellbeing and mental health, if you have a leader who displays any of the toxic traits mentioned above, it’s time to move on to greener pastures.

Filiz Behaettin is a best-selling author, freelance writer and speaker. Her latest book 'Elevate: the practical guide to living your best life and succeeding' is available at most bookstores including Barnes and Noble. Filiz offers 1-on-1 mentoring and consulting services, copywriting, editing and manuscript services. She is also available for corporate speaking engagements and school visits. You can contact Filiz at www.filizbauthor.com or follow her at www.instagram.com/filiz.b_author

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Success Advice

Mastering Self-Management for Success: Lessons From Peter F. Drucker

With careers no longer following a straight, predictable path, self-awareness and adaptability are essential for success.

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Peter f drucker lessons
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In today’s dynamic professional world, self-management has become increasingly important. With careers no longer following a straight, predictable path, self-awareness and adaptability are essential for success. (more…)

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How to Ignite the Spark Within for Future Success

All of us come to this world with our own reserve of magic unfortunately, not everyone can unleash it

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What is it that makes some people great leaders while others remain followers? What magic do they have that others don’t? What special blessing gives them the power to bring significant change?  (more…)

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How Your Beliefs Can Supercharge or Sabotage Your Success

Your life is dictated by beliefs and biases that drive your thinking, behaviors, and decisions

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Pause for a moment and ponder two pandemic-era beliefs: First, closing schools will control the spread of a serious virus. Second, the consequences of such school closures—particularly social interruption and the prevention of immunity—are worse than becoming sick with the virus. (more…)

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How to Break the Cycles of Mediocrity and Manifest Your Greatness

There is no greatness without becoming and there is no becoming with authenticity

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Image Credit: Midjourney

In just a few weeks, we will be wrapping up 2023. Can you believe it? This year has been absolutely incredible for me.

I have seen amazing doors opened, new relationships formed and I am seeing dreams realized in my life. While this seems like the hallmarks of a great year, this has also been the most challenging year of my life. With all of the change happening in my life, I have been forced out of my comfort zone and challenged to grow in every area of my life.

I can truly say that I have made the most of my moments this year and I have used everything as a catalyst for maximizing my greatest potential.

As a revolutionary leader, I have the pleasure of consulting and advising leaders around the world to fulfill purpose, realize their greatest potential and make an impact.

I want to share some insights with you that will help you to break cycles of mediocrity and manifest your greatness

Everything legal must come through the matrix

I am sure that some of you are wondering why I am using the term matrix. However, what you have to understand is that I am trying to make a highly complex spiritual principle practical to understand.

Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, every life has an origin and I believe that origin is divine and begins with eternity. You are birthed from eternity and into time to fulfill a unique purpose and assignment in your lifetime and generation.

The matrix is simply the portal or vehicle that brings something out of the invisible realm and into tangible form. The problem with much of the teaching today is that it excludes the matrix. We are told to believe that success is instantaneous and overnight.

Nobody talks about how a dream progresses through stages beginning with visualization and ultimately culminating in manifestation. Without a matrix or portal then everything that you attempt to birth and build will be illegal.

The matrix not only makes you legal but it gives you the authority and power to function as the greatest expression of who you were created to be. 

Every matrix has an incubation process

While many people admire and respect me today, I remember a time when nobody knew who I was or the significance of my message. How did I get to where I am today? I got here through an incubation process.

In other words, everything that has been destined for your life is incubating and awaiting a set time of manifestation. The problem is that most people live their entire lives idle and never initiate the incubation process.

What do I meany by that? Most people are living reckless and very few people are living intentionally. I am amazed at the number of people I have conversations with that have no vision, goals or strategies for their lives. They show great promise and they have undeniable potential.

However, without development they will die with their dreams still in them.

Everything that has been destined for your life must be incubated and converted to become realities born to time. 

“Visualize this thing that you want, see it, feel it, believe in it. Make your mental blueprint and begin to build.” – Robert Collier

You must give expression to that which is not yet born to time

When you think about a matrix or a prophetic incubation process, you have to understand that potential is often unrealized and untapped. In other words, your potential is in raw form and your potential cannot serve you as long as it is untapped.

The thing that makes me valuable is that I have the ability to convert potential into power. I have done it in my own life and I have empowered leaders around the world to do the same. How do you convert potential into power?

First, it is important to note that you have to perceive potential. If you cannot perceive your potential then you can never cultivate your potential. In addition, you must take the time to cultivate your potential. We often get excited about our capabilities; however, we never expand our capacity in order to realize our greatest potential.

In other words, the strength of your potential is only discovered through your willingness to stretch. The more we are challenged the more we are empowered to expand our capacity for greatness. Most of all, you must begin to express your potential. The expression of potential is different for every person.

For example, the expression of my potential is best demonstrated through the thoughts, ideas, products, services, books, etc.

For another person the expression of potential may look like a screenplay, artwork, sports, scientific discoveries, medical breakthroughs, etc.

Regardless of the form of expression, I know that you will live empty and unfulfilled until you make the decision to express your potential. The expression of your potential gives voice to your dreams, life to your vision, significance to your moments and activates your true power.

You must manifest your greatness

As a revolutionary thinker and leader, my work has impacted people around the world. I am grateful that my life is a source of empowerment to so many people. However, before anyone could ever benefit from my life, I had to make a non-negotiable decision to become who I was born to be.

I wish I could tell you that this journey is easy and that you will get there overnight. However, in a world that celebrates us for doing we are often criticized for being. As a result, I wasted a lot of time trying to be who other people wanted me to be instead of being who I was born to be.

There is no greatness without becoming and there is no becoming with authenticity. It is through our bravery to be vulnerable that we ultimately manifest our greatness. We do not bless the world by being a duplicate. We bless the world when we honor our difference. When you honor your difference you honor your potential.

Ultimately, your difference is how you manifest your greatness.

When you present anything but your authentic self to the world, you are playing small and you are robbing the world of your significance. Manifesting your greatness requires you to master your gifts.

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