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  • Writer's picturePeter McKenzie

Toxic Leaders

Updated: Sep 25, 2021

We have all had bad moments with our boss,  but when a bad moment becomes a bad day, bad week then a bad month or year, well something is really up….maybe you are working for the worst type of boss you can find…….the toxic boss!

I have had my own share of bad bosses during my career (as well as many great ones). One boss in particular would fall into the “extreme toxicity” camp – someone who made my life hell. He’s certainly not on my Christmas card list!

According to “The Toxic Boss Survival Guide” by Craig Chappelow, Peter Ronayne and Bill Adams, typically these people are narcissistic, two-faced, egomaniacal and controlling,

If that is not enough, just like smoking, these people can seriously damage your health and even kill you!

Swedish researchers at the Stress Institute at Stockholm University studied a group of men over 10 years and found that toxic bosses increased their employees´ heart disease risk by 25 percent.

People working for a bad boss for more than 4 years had a 64 percent higher risk of hear disease.

So who are these “Assholes” as Bob Sutton so eloquently describes them in his book, “The Asshole survival guide”?

Well, they fall into four general categories:-

1. The Incompetent boss

Over promoted, over rated, this boss will create a blame culture, making sure that everyone else is at fault rather than them. This is a cover-up for their own incompetence, at the same time stressing everyone and anyone in their firing line.

2. The secretive boss

Information is power and this boss won’t let anyone know what is going on in order to maintain theirs. Or perhaps only a few elite colleagues will be privy to what is going on. For anyone else, they are in the dark, living with the stress that uncertainty brings. Pure toxicity.

3. The uncommunicative boss

No objectives, no updates, no feedback. This boss is the silent type. However lack of direction leads to disengagement and a sense that nothing is really worthwhile at work. A culture of disenchantment and toxicity prevails, with a sense of depression and despair likely to prevail.

4. The Bully 

The worst type of all. Rude, abusive and power crazy. These types of bosses show no respect for anyone and seem to enjoy belittling their own people, leading to a miserable existence for those they choose to abuse and creating the most toxic culture of all.

Do you recognise any of these behaviours? Well if you are suffering any of these situations, the first thing you should know is:-


These types of unacceptable behaviours have been going on for years in thousands of organisations affecting hundreds of thousands if not millions of people and, most importantly….


The problem is with your boss, not with you.

Feel better? I certainly hope so. It is a dark hole to be in, but there are actions you can take.

But you still have a problem, right?

So what is this action plan?

In my next post I will recommend what to do – and as an extra bonus, what I did with my own, toxic boss.

To be continued……

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