In Professional Development’s associate tutor, Alex Firmin, continues to talk to us about toxic leadership. Following on from part one and two; coping with toxic leaders, we’re finishing up this three part series with some highly effective actions for organisations and individuals alike to take against toxic leadership.


Some actions to take against toxic Leadership

We have found that when an individual feels they are in an uncontrollable situation, they are likely to revert to avoidance-focused coping strategies, such as taking leave and eventually leaving the organisation.  This is understandable as not all organisations are well equipped to deal with toxic leadership.

We have found this to be an issue in owner-managed businesses, where the ‘leader’ isn’t accountable to any disciplinary process or person.  In these instances, the inevitable high turnover of staff and increasingly poor reputation as an employer, may force change or lead to closure of the organisation.


For organisations:

Most organisations are engaged in dealing with toxic leadership, and toxic culture.  It is recommended that organisations consider:

  • Proactive organizational training programs focusing on effective coping strategies to deal with toxic behaviours
  • Training and support to equip employees with the courage and resilience to address toxic leadership behaviours rationally, using an evidence-based approach
  • Advice on the social and professional support is made clearly available to employees
  • An emphasis on the importance of taking responsibility for maintaining personal health and well-being will equip employees with the knowledge and skills needed to prevent them from coming to harm, or to deflect harm when it first occurs
  • Examine closely how success, and successful leadership, is measured. A focus on the achievement of short-term objectives could be driving toxic behaviour.


For the employee affected:
  • Problem solving strategies, such as standing your ground, taking an evidence based and calm rational approach, tend to provide the best results.
  • Engage with the formal support structures, rather than just informal social support. It may be worth persevering, and it is highly unlikely you are alone in feeling out of control and stressed by the leader’s behaviour.
  • Maintain a journal so that you can present clear, evidence-based points and examples. This reflective process may help you to think more clearly about how to address the problem.
  • As a last resort you may need to leave the organisation. This is better than allowing your long term mental and physical health to be affected.

If toxic leadership is something you’re experiencing or have experienced in your workplace, you may benefit from our CMI Level 5 – Leadership and Management course, or our CMI Level 7 – Senior Leadership Programme, where we delve into the subject in more detail.


You can download your FREE guide to Everything You Need To Know About Leadership here.

If you would like to know more about what we do visit INPD or head over to our Linked In page for more thought-provoking ideas.

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