You may work for a leader who states their goal is to create a positive work environment and build a winning team. In reality they may lack the knowledge, skills, and emotional intelligence of achieving the goal and actually create a toxic work environment.

The impact of a toxic manager or leader within an organization can be significant and far-reaching, affecting various aspects of the workplace environment, employee well-being, and overall productivity.

Their efforts can result in:

  1. Low Employee Morale. Toxic leaders create a negative work environment characterized by fear, stress, and uncertainty. This can lead to decreased morale among employees, as they may feel undervalued, unappreciated, or even threatened by the leader’s toxic behavior.
  2. Increased Turnover. Employees will often simply leave the organization rather than continue to work under a toxic manager. Many don’t get angry, they simply leave. In recent times this has been described as Quiet Quitting. High turnover rates are costly for companies as they incur expenses related to recruitment, training, lost productivity, and a poor reputation as a place to work.
  3. Poor Performance. Toxic leaders impede employee performance by providing inconsistent and negative feedback, micromanaging, creating unrealistic expectations and a negative culture within the organization. The result is decreased productivity, poor quality work, lack of engagement and a revolving door of employees.
  4. Lack of Innovation, Creativity and Engagement. A toxic work environment stifles creativity and innovation. Employees are reluctant to share ideas and take risks when they fear criticism or retaliation from their leader. Low engagement levels can lead to indifference, workplace disruption and at worst, negativity that poisons the team.
  5. Negative Impact on Health and Well-being. Working under a toxic leader can take a toll on employees’ mental and physical health. Stress-related illnesses, anxiety, depression, and burnout are common consequences of sustained exposure to toxic work environments. Many employees opt for hybrid and remote work to avoid being in their presence.
  6. Damage to Reputation and Brand. Organizations with a reputation for having toxic leaders struggle to attract and retain top talent. Negative reviews on employer rating websites or word-of-mouth can deter potential employees and even clients from engaging with the company.
  7. Erosion of Trust and Collaboration. Toxic managers often foster an atmosphere of distrust and competition rather than collaboration and teamwork. This can hinder communication and cooperation among team members, ultimately impacting the organization’s ability to achieve its goals.

Overall, the impact of a toxic manager or leader can be detrimental to both individual employees and the organization. Addressing toxic behavior promptly and implementing measures to promote a positive work culture are essential for fostering employee engagement, productivity, and well-being.

As an organization you either pay now or you pay later to address toxic leadership. In my experience paying now always costs less than delaying the inevitable.

I’ll close with a quote from Jim Collins, author of Good To Great. “Every good-to-great company embraced what we came to call “The Stockdale Paradox” you must maintain unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, and at the same time, have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”