Top 6 Astonishing Signs of Toxic Leadership

Signs Of Toxic Leadership
Signs of Toxic Leadership

Toxic Leadership is when psychological discomfort becomes the norm for the team. As a result, employees do exactly as much as is required of them and not a grain more, voluntarily do not stay at work for a minute, stop showing initiative, and many other charms. There are many signs of toxic leadership, but before discussing them, let’s discuss what toxic leadership at work is.

What Is Toxic Leadership

Toxic leadership refers to leaders who create a negative and harmful work environment through their actions and behaviors. These leaders may engage in bullying, harassment, manipulation, or other abusive behaviors. Toxic leadership refers to a leadership style characterized by negative and detrimental behaviors that can harm the leader’s followers, the organization, and, ultimately, the leader themselves. These behaviors include arrogance, autocracy, irritability, maladjustment, lack of confidence, incompetence, emphasis on hierarchy, unrealistic expectations, symbols of personal authority, and discriminatory behavior.

Toxic Leadership Behavior Examples

Examples of toxic leadership behaviors include spreading rumors and gossip, undermining colleagues, and failing to provide clear direction or support. It’s important to note that toxic leadership is not only limited to the top of an organization but can also exist in middle management and front-line supervisors.

Top Signs Of Toxic Leadership

If you have ever encountered toxic leadership, you will recognize such a company from the doorstep, in the literal sense – entering the office.

Ordinary employees here are quieter than water and lower than grass. As a rule, they are polite, even helpful. At their level, they have normal interpersonal relationships. But as soon as the door of the chief’s office opens, conversations subside, faces become serious, and everyone makes an extremely busy and smart look.

Even the interior of the office speaks volumes. Imperial manners are observed: a huge hall and an office for the most important leader and modest conditions for ordinary employees.

Toxic Leadership Tools

Management in the company is built on fear. The toxic leader believes that this is the best motivator in managing people. People move when they are afraid. Techniques like situational leadership, typology of subordinates, and environmental management are just nonsense here. Some of the signs of toxic leadership in the workplace include:

Toxic Leadership Tools
Top 6 Astonishing Signs Of Toxic Leadership

Devaluation of Employee Merit

Toxic leaders don’t listen to their employees’ ideas and suggestions, even if they could improve the organization’s output. This can make employees feel undervalued and discouraged, even if the ideas and suggestions could improve the organization’s output. Consequently, the outcome of the work will never be optimal, as it could have been done in an efficient and timely manner. On the other hand, if the results are significant, credit for the achievement will likely be attributed to external factors such as the team, the situation, the weather, or even the boss, who may not hesitate to take credit.

Playing Favorites

Toxic leaders may play favorites, showing preferential treatment to certain employees based on personal relationships rather than merit or performance. This can lead to resentment among employees who feel they are not being recognized for their hard work and contributions.

Indifference to Initiatives

Even if you present brilliant ideas, they may be met with indifference by toxic leaders. They may refuse to offer support and suggest that you implement the ideas yourself. Introducing new ideas requires changes to the existing system, and this uncertainty can be unsettling for some. Toxic leaders may not offer praise or recognition for employees who do well, leading to decreased morale and negative self-perception.

No Room for Error

Toxic leaders may blow even minor mistakes out of proportion, reacting with hostility, humiliation, and threats. This kind of behavior creates a culture of fear and discouragement, where employees feel hesitant to take risks or make decisions, and may be blamed for things outside of their control. This can create a sense of unease among employees, who may question their abilities and feel unsupported in their work.


Toxic leaders may not attempt to conceal their bad moods, regardless of whether they were caused by personal or work-related issues. This can create a tense atmosphere in the workplace, with employees avoiding interaction and focusing on their work. In such a situation, the leader may observe increased productivity and conclude that displaying a negative mood can manipulate employees into working better. As a result, the leader may intentionally exhibit a bad mood in order to manipulate their team into better performance.


The toxic manager may use tactics of blackmail as a means of controlling their subordinates. This can involve creating a culture of fear and intimidation by demanding that employees justify their existence in the company or department. For example, a manager may require their subordinates to write a statement justifying their employment or explaining why they are necessary to the team’s success. Such demands can be emotionally taxing and create a sense of insecurity and uncertainty among employees. The toxic manager may also resort to other manipulative tactics, such as threatening to withhold promotions or bonuses unless employees comply with their demands. Ultimately, these tactics of blackmail can lead to a toxic work environment, where employees feel trapped and disempowered, and may ultimately lead to high turnover rates and decreased productivity.

Disrespect for Work Time and Tasks of Others

Toxic leaders may demonstrate a lack of respect for the work time and tasks of their colleagues and subordinates. They may create unrealistic deadlines or expect employees to work outside of regular business hours without any additional compensation or acknowledgement. This can lead to burnout, decreased productivity, and feelings of resentment among employees. Additionally, toxic leaders may disregard the personal lives and responsibilities of their team members, expecting them to put work above all else, including family obligations or personal well-being.

Job Prospects with Toxic Leadership

There are few possible outcomes in this scenario. Employees may either comply with the system, realize that it is not suitable for them and leave, or opt for an intermediate solution that may only work temporarily. The outcome depends on a variety of factors, such as the employee’s patience, motivation, and personal circumstances.

The Consequences of Toxic Leadership

Toxic leadership can have a range of negative effects on individuals, teams, and organizations. At the individual level, it can cause stress, anxiety, and a decline in self-esteem and confidence. Employees may become disengaged and lose motivation, leading to decreased productivity and quality of work. Toxic leadership can also lead to high turnover rates, as employees leave to escape the toxic environment.

At the team level, toxic leadership can lead to a lack of collaboration and communication, as employees may be hesitant to share ideas or speak up. This can result in missed opportunities for innovation and growth. In extreme cases, toxic leadership can create a culture of fear and bullying, which can lead to workplace harassment and discrimination.

At the organizational level, the effects of toxic leadership can be even more significant. It can damage the reputation of the company and lead to decreased morale and loyalty from employees. It can also lead to a loss of trust and respect from stakeholders, including customers and investors. Ultimately, the long-term effects of toxic leadership can impact the success and sustainability of the organization.