5 Bad Habits of a Toxic Leader CEOs Should Avoid

Toxic leaders contaminate the work place. Some do it without realizing it, while others do so purposefully. If you are a toxic CEO, your company could be suffering irrevocable damage. The stress these types of leaders place on their team hinders performance, causes undue stress and creates turnover.

A 2015 Gallup poll found that nearly half of employees surveyed had at one time or another left a company due to a toxic leader. Most CEOs aren’t surprised by this. Another poll, this one of industry leaders, found that 64% of those surveyed admitted to focusing more on ‘the numbers’ than their people.

“Nearly half of employees surveyed had at one time or another left a company due to a toxic leader.”

While it’s not easy being at the top, it’s important to recognize bad habits in order to change them. These are some of the habits of toxic CEOs. If you recognize any of these, it may be time to change your spots in order to keep the talent you have.

1) Toxic leaders lose their cool. They fly off the handle easily. If this is you, it can be a hard habit to break. However, it can be done. Communicate more frequently; anticipate problems before they happen. Always have a Plan B ready. Laugh! Joke with your staff. And always keep things in perspective.

2) Toxic leaders blame others for their mistakes. Spreading the blame to subordinates is no way to garner favor, and it tends to turn a team against the boss. Leaders who spread blame need to look to the root cause. Taking the blame for mistakes can actually bring the CEO a great deal of respect from his or her team.

3) Toxic leaders forget about ‘off’ time. CEOs tend to expect everyone to put in the hours they themselves do. This type of leader needs to remember the work/home life boundary. CEOs might consider instituting a ‘no email after work hours’ policy; some CEOs have gone as far as to shut the servers down after hours.

4) Toxic leaders forget to share their company’s vision with subordinates. As CEO, you know the direction the company is going in; you know the big picture. Make sure your staff sees what’s ahead, too. Letting them in on things can be very motivating, it allows everyone to share in success. Without a direction or vision, it’s hard to get excited about coming to work.

5) Toxic leaders only talk to their staff about work. You don’t have to be your subordinates’ best friend, but your staff would like to talk to you about things besides work once in a while. In the same Gallup poll mentioned above, employees said they would love to talk to the company leader more often, if it wasn’t about work. They love knowing you take an interest in their personal lives.

Toxic CEOs who can turn things around will notice a change in morale, and a change in growth. A happy work environment even draws better talent. When your company is a good place to work, people notice, and employee retention increases.


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