by Vasco Duarte
There are almost as many leadership traits as there are managers out there. And obviously: about as much management styles. It means that there are a lot of bad bosses around too. (Want to be a good boss? I wrote about that right here.) It’s clear that bad bosses are bad for people. They’re capable of killing many things, for instance self-esteem and motivation. And according to an article by Susan Adams on Forbes called Study Shows How Toxic Bosses Wreck Teamwork, they are devastating for teamwork, too. Although this is bad news, I have to say I love the name Toxic Boss. It sounds like the bad guy in a James Bond movie and you know how those end up.
Monkey See, Monkey Do
If you ask me, bosses should be all about creating an atmosphere that gets the best out of people. Unfortunately there are always the power-loving leeches that suck your motivation like a vampire does blood. In the article Susan explains how Chystal Farh teamed up with Zhijun Chen to examine what abusive supervisors do to group dynamics. And what they learned is quite alarming. They wrote: “The targets of the abusive boss’s ridicule will often turn around and start abusing other team members”.
Yes, that sounds like the story on monkeys that I wrote a couple of weeks ago.
Talk About It
So what can you do about a bad boss treating you or your team members unjustly? The researchers apparently didn’t try to answer that question. But Susan Adams does. She advises to bond together as a team, “Go for drinks after work and vent”. And even if you’re not the one getting the full blast of evilness, just tell the colleagues who are that, no matter what that %#@* said, they did a hell of a job in your opinion. Because believing in yourself comes first, but a little help never hurt anybody. As Susan puts it: “If I know it’s the boss who has the problem, I can brush off the abusive comments and just focus on my work. And it helps to have a sense of humor.”
I think Susan would be a hell of a colleague to have.
Photo by Jeff Sandquist