Working for a Toxic Leader? – 5 Survival Tips to Protect Your Sanity

Remember the scene in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy, Tin Man, Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion finally approach the Great Oz after days of perilous travel? The four are optimistic at first, but the Wizard’s booming voice, harsh words, and fireworks had them all trembling in their boots.

The way the Wizard manipulated others to keep his distance and manage his image is not very different from some leaders I’ve seen. Despite thousands of books and articles about the need for leaders to be visible and approachable, there are still those elusive executives who sneak in a back door and stay hidden inside their offices day after day. I cannot cite the reasons for this behavior, but I can speak to the impact.

I was recently doing focus groups with frontline employees who told me they wouldn’t recognize the CEO if he sat down beside them. They know his name, but when they speak of him, I’m reminded of the man behind the curtain. Even the managers and directors fear him and rarely have an audience with him. In most cases, if you are called to his office, it is to be scolded.

Thriving Despite a Toxic Leader

Feeling confident that the executives who behave in this Wizard-of-Oz-like manner will not be reading this blog, I turn my focus to those living in this toxic environment with a few survival tips. You will never thrive because of a toxic leader, but you can learn to thrive despite them. Here’s how:

  1. Connect to purpose. If you are working in healthcare, you are doing important work that impacts the lives of patients, their families, and community members.
  2. Practice self-care both at work and outside of work by setting limits and protecting your personal time.
  3. Strive for positivity in your department by maintaining professionalism and refraining from gossip. After all, you control what you think, say, and do.
  4. Tap into your emotional intelligence to recognize your hot buttons and manage your emotions.
  5. Continue growing and building your expertise. Not only will it make you better at your current job, but it will also build your resume for future opportunities.

One to gauge the levels of toxicity in your organization? Contact Baird Group now for a personalized cultural assessmentClick here to set up a free 30-minute consultation and learn more.

Tags: , , ,

Subscribe to our Articles and stay up to date on leadership practices, employee engagement, retention, and service excellence.

Submit your information below to start receiving our Baird Group articles.