Is your boss making you sick? Scientists reveal the ‘toxic’ personality traits of the worst leaders
MANY of us might have called our boss ‘toxic’ when venting about work.
But new research has shown that bosses could be giving us more than just a reason to complain – their bad leadership may be affecting our health and causing stress levels to spike.
Stress can be at the root of all sorts of common and lethal diseases, including heart attacks, diabetes, asthma, cancer, anxiety, depression, insomnia, memory loss and even premature aging, says wellbeing expert Professor Simon L. Dolan PhD.
And worryingly, three-fifths of the world’s employees say their job impacts their mental health more than anything else.
In his book De-Stress At Work - Understanding and Combatting Chronic Stress – released by Taylor & Francis – Professor Dolan says the effect of a bad leader can be ‘devastating’ .
Is my boss toxic?
Professor Dolan broke down the six characteristics that make a leader harmful to their team.
He said a toxic boss:
- is jealous of their team’s success
- is constantly concerned about competition or workplace ‘enemies’
- often takes credit for other people’s work
- constantly compares themselves to others
- considers their self-worth to be solely driven by their latest results
“Whether knowingly or not, a toxic leader is one who abuses their authority and violates trust to satisfy their own ego,” said Professor Dolan.
And bad bosses could be hurting themselves as well their team.
Stereotypes of leaders having almost superhuman stamina and strength can be harmful, Professor Dolan argues, as it can lead bosses to hide their feelings when under pressure.
And there are specific factors that could predispose someone to becoming a toxic boss, including inherited characteristics, early life experiences and learned cognitive predispositions.
According to Professor Dolan, “a lack of deep-rooted self- esteem” and “a compulsive need to display their worth to others” can make someone’s personality harmful to others.
For Professor Dolan, a healthy work environment hangs on how bosses respond to stress.
“A boss’ perception of control will drive how they respond to stressful work situations,” he said.
“Someone who feels they are in control of their lives, environments and actions are less stressed,” he adds. “This is really the core of emotional intelligence.”
How can bosses become less toxic?
Professor Dolan said: “Even if someone is not innately confident, it is possible to change their internal perception so they feel more in control.”
He also believes bosses should learn to be more realistic about their strengths and weaknesses.
“A leader needs to be able to proactively manage their emotions well enough to project calm and rational to their teams,” he explained.
Professor Dolan also urged bosses to not confuse confidence with over-confidence.
“A great leader needs to be respectful, supportive and nurturing of growth – not just someone who is self-assured.”
When it comes to their employees, it’s important that bosses recognise a job well done in order to nurture their self-esteem.
“The stakes for leadership have always been high,” Professor Dolan aid, “but knowing you’re affecting people’s mental health is cause for leaders to take stock and ensure they’re doing all they can to be their best and have their most positive impacts on people.”
Source of data and images: thesun