8 Common Behaviours of Toxic Leaders, According to Google
The most menacing form of leadership you should avoid.
Over 57% of employees quit bosses, not their jobs, according to the study conducted by the DDI’s Center for Analytics and Behavioral Research.
The Huffington Post published a collection of stories from former employees who shared why they quit. All of them are different, but the ultimate reason is often the same:
I love my work, but I feel like I was being used.
Company leaders create an environment where employees are either passionate about their jobs or wait for a moment to quit.
Employees are often motivated by new opportunities, career growth, and a decent paycheck. However, some employers treat their workers as assets to reach their goals.
Brigette Hyacinth, the American author, and the Keynote speaker, put it nicely,
If job expectations and reality don’t match, the hidden dissatisfaction will start rising. Smart bosses always try to put out the fire and keep their most valuable employees in-house. However, some follow the approach “there are no irreplaceable people in this world.”
That’s true that everyone is replaceable, but some people are way more challenging to replace than others.
Google has also admitted the rising problem of leaders' competency and toxic working environment. Google’s People Innovation Lab conducted year-long performance appraisals to analyze their employee surveys and managerial KPIs. Their study revealed clear distinctions in the behavior of the worst and best-rated leaders.
While we all have our criteria to describe a good manager, we often rely on our feelings when we admit something is not going well.
The truth is, not everyone is meant to manage! These are eight common behaviors of toxic leaders, according to Google.
They Show No Interest In You and Only Care About The Job to Be Done
Once, I’ve witnessed an embarrassing situation at one of my former workplaces. My colleague’s grandpa passed away, and she was quite depressed for some time. Our chief marketing executive approached her and said:
Hi Nancy, how are you doing? Are you okay?
I see. Let’s try to get back to work. I have to discuss some important tasks with you. Let’s meet after lunch today. Alright?
See you then.
Nancy did not comment on this situation; she quit in a few months.
Bosses lacking emotional intelligence can’t understand what makes their employees feel excited, motivated, passionate, or indifferent. They can’t create a supportive environment at work.
TalentSmart, one of the leading providers of emotional intelligence (EQ) tests, analyzed employees’ behavior. Their study revealed a surprising discovery that company owners and CEOs tend to have the lowest EQ. People want to work with empathetic managers who treat them well and understand their values.
They Want to Micromanage Everything
Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, once well-said:
“If you really want to grow as an entrepreneur, you’ve got to learn to delegate.”
Job delegation allows business owners to free their time and use it elsewhere. They no longer have to deal with lower-level tasks. Instead, they can focus on strategy, big vision, new business ideas, and company growth.
Delegation signals about trust. Leaders let their employees do their best for the company and are always ready to support once in need.
Confident people don’t like being told what to do and how to do things. If they experience pressure, a need for frequent job updates, and an inability to be heard, they will sooner or later quit! It is the outcome of micromanagement.
Toxic bosses value the job progress more than their employees. They find it difficult to delegate tasks and let other people take ownership.
They Get Frustrated When Coaching People
According to Google, frustrated managers often show the lowest performance.
It is normal if employees don’t know something. They should not be afraid of it. Instead, they should expect support and help from their managers. Wise leaders know employees develop their soft and hard skills inside the company. It takes their time, patience, and effort.
I’ve seen a company CEO who screamed at his employees because they offered alternative work approaches. He did not want to listen and understand their concerns; he wanted them to obey.
Frustrated bosses who can’t calm down their anger lose their authority in the eyes of their employees. What’s more, if they did not control their emotions once, they will most likely do it again.
They Are Convinced Managing Employees’ Professional Growth Is Not Their Business
Once I’ve been through a job interview, I asked the HR manager about my job’s social benefits. I’ve got a mind-blowing response:
We provide basic insurance and some contribution in case you would like to purchase a new phone. We don’t offer a corporate phone number since people rarely call these days.
Unfortunately, we do not allocate a budget for employees’ training, but we encourage in-house knowledge sharing. If you are willing to take some courses directly related to your work, we might consider your request.
I did not get a positive impression from that interview. Why? Because everyone wants to grow professionally. If you don’t climb the career ladder, someone else will do it instead of you.
Around 89 % of bosses believe employees quit because they want to get a higher remuneration, according to Leigh Branham’s book “The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave.” The author also wrote managers would be happy to accept this statement since it would merely pardon them from wrong-doing.
According to more recent studies, the actual percentage is twice lower, roughly 44%.
These days people value work-life balance, career growth, social benefits as much as their remuneration. Influential leaders know the most passionate employees will go above and beyond to make their company strive. Toxic bosses are convinced employees should be happy getting their salaries; everything else is not their business.
Well-paid jobs without self-actualization cannot be sustained for a long time.
They Often Do Not Stay On Top of Their Work
Incompetent leaders don’t know how to establish the right working environment to let people actually work without wasting valuable time on meetings.
Being unable to stay on top of work is a sign of poor self-management.
Think of it this way, if a manager cannot manage his own time effectively and productively, how can he set the right expectations from his employees?
Time and energy are the most valuable resources on Earth that are not possible to revert. If ineffective leadership causes time and energy losses — companies will be losing money and their best employees too!
They Are Antisocial
Antisocial bosses prefer working in private rooms. They rarely engage in company activities and don’t deal with employees’ requests personally.
According to Google, antisocial behavior might signal about poor communication skills and lack of confidence.
Significant work decisions require open and constructive communication between employees and management.
91% out of a thousand employees reported the lack of proper communication as one of the most critical skills managers fail in, according to the Interact/Harris Poll.
If your boss does not hold feedback sessions with you, ignores company events, or even can’t recall your name during the meetings — these are all signs of a toxic, antisocial boss.
Dale Carnegie, an American writer and a public speaker, once put it:
The sweetest word in any language, for anyone, is the sound of their name. And not caring about how to correctly pronounce your name is a big sign people don’t really care much about you.
They Don’t Have a Company Vision
Good managers lead their teams, show direction and motivate them to reach unreachable goals. You are lucky if you find a CEO with a solid plan who knows how to communicate it to employees and make them believe in it.
Meeting targets, especially during challenging periods, requires clarity from managers.
According to Google, if your boss has no clear company vision and splits the responsibility among employees — that’s a sign of toxic management.
If managers are uncertain about the next company movement, employees might doubt their competency level. Why would anyone work with a manager who has no clue what does he want?
They Feel Threatened by Talented Employees
Toxic managers feel insecure when talented employees show their professionalism.
If employees are more proactive with an excellent reputation, it might adversely impact managers’ self-esteem.
Such managers are self-centered and feel threatened by talented people.
In contrast, top bosses understand various jobs require specific skills and qualities they don’t possess. Great managers “hire the best people with the skills their team needs,” according to Google.
Life is too short to work with people you don’t respect and who make you feel miserable.
People rarely change. You might endlessly wait for corporate improvements and end up not seeing them.
If you secretly don’t like your boss, you can either change your current job or use the situation to your benefit.
Who knows, poor management might help you grasp your ideal workplace or even push you towards entrepreneurship.
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