How recognise a toxic manager….

For a business to thrive managers at all levels must BE leaders for their organisations. Through coaching I’ve seen enough  disasters ending in failed businesses because of catastrophic mistakes by managers who basically lacked people leadership skills.

It shouldn’t come down to this, but here’s a simple truth that will save your bottom line: Stop recruiting or promoting people and putting them into leadership roles when they don’t have the human skills to do the job well.

If you’re not sure who belongs and who doesn’t to the demanding leadership roles, pay attention to the following warning signs:

1. Crushes team creativity

Managers who say they want an innovative team and then turn around and kill any new idea suggested are subconsciously sabotaging the creative process through a top-down approach. The solution is easy for me to recommend, but not so easy for top-down manager’s to pull off. It’s to pivot to a “bottom-up” approach of supporting and nurturing innovation from “idea people” who want to contribute and make an impact.

2. Lacks accountability

Managers who lack accountability are often critical, can’t admit to their own mistakes, are never wrong, and will blame other people when something goes wrong, even if it’s not based on reality. They are simply not accountable for their own actions. They are more concerned with saving face.

3. Has no interest in their people’s personal lives

I’ve spoken to numerous disengaged employees at different clients who’ve personally shared how their managers have little interest in them as individuals – their personal lives, their aspirations, and their interests. It is these managers who are disconnected and disengaged from their workers; they don’t develop personal relationships or foster collaboration, and they spend considerable time making and communicating decisions behind emails and through formal announcements.

4. Manages through fear

One mistake I often come across are managers who micromanage every move. Whether they know it or not, they have fostered an unpleasant climate where employees are constantly watching over their backs. Facing such a manager during the day probably means bad news because the conversation is rarely positive. This type of manager will create distrust where it’s not safe to disclose information, offer input, or work as a team.

5. Fails to listen

Finally, it’s the lack of active and respectful listening and two-way communication (sending without receiving). This is a clear shortcoming for managers who lack leadership skills. The willingness to listen to constructive feedback – especially the kind you don’t want to hear – or to the ideas, opinions, and expertise of others is a strong quality of a good leader, but non-existent in a toxic, micromanaged environment where people don’t feel valued.


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