Everything You Needed to Know About Your Toxic Boss

Toxic bosses infect the workplace and affect the workers in it.  BusinessWeek has been running a special series, Business at Work: Toxic Bosses.  The series focuses on the dangerous impact of what I call Jerks at Work. Bob Sutton, who is mentioned often on this blog, is one of the guest contributors. 


Dr. Annie McKee, Managing Director of Teleos Leadership Institute, is also a contributor.  McKee’s post had a particularly important lesson I think is worth repeating here:

That’s one of the reasons why toxic bosses are so dangerous—their poisonous emotions cause us to sink to the lowest common denominator. Worse, when destructive emotions emanate from the most powerful amongst us, we catch the disease, then spread the pain. It’s not long before we live and work in an environment that is caustic, dissonant, and just plain miserable

McKee goes on to encourage workers with a toxic boss to try to resist the urge to fight back with equally toxic behavior.  I concur–enthusiastically.  As difficult as it can be, the most effective strategy is to channel our energies into maintaining a positive attitude.  We know how infectious negative emotions can be in the workplace.  It only takes one negative coworker to bring a rain cloud over the entire office. 

McKee says, pointedly, “Remember, the poison is his or hers, not yours! You have a choice about whether you mirror destructive emotions, moods, or styles.” 

One way to do this?  Use the power of numbers.  Engage in your own campaign.  Gather the troops.  You are not the only one suffering at the hands of your toxic boss.  Make a pact.  If one of you is targeted, agree that the rest of you will rally around and fight back with positivity and support.

Fight back with positivity.

Earlier Jerks-at-Work Posts:

Jerks-at-Work Expert Confirms Office Incivility

Abusive Bosses Should Watch Their Backs

The Cost of Bully Legislation

You Know You’re a Bad Manager When . . .

No Jerks Allowed, Catchy, Isn’t It?

Respectful Workplace Policy

Top 5 Lessons to Be Learned from the Jerk at Work

Bullying Can Be Physical . . . But Torture?

Are Bullies Beating Up Your Employees’ Health?

Bullying in the Workplace is Water Cooler Talk on Good Morning America