In Professional Development’s expert leadership tutor, Alex Firmin, talks to us about toxic leadership.

Read part one of this three part series.



Recent studies have shown that working for a toxic boss not only affects professional and occupational fulfilment, it can have wide ranging effects on your mental health and well-being. If you have worked for a toxic leader, you will know how it can undermine your confidence, cause anxiety and distress, and if unaddressed, can lead to long term effects such as clinical depression.

This article examines what toxic leadership is and proposes some actions to take for organisations and individuals to effectively tackle toxic behaviour.


What is toxic leadership?

Toxic leadership is an increasingly commonly used term to describe leaders who engage consistent negative behaviours that, if systematic and repeated, cause psychological harm for their followers. Toxic behaviours include, but are not limited to, intimidating, bullying, manipulating, micromanaging, arrogance, and engaging in abusive or unethical behaviour.

Toxic leaders may be narcissists or even sociopaths; people with no conscience who see their employees only as tools to be used to achieve their selfish objectives.

For affected followers, toxic leadership behaviours are associated with psychological distress (i.e. stress, anxiety and depression), emotional harm (i.e. emotional exhaustion, fear and social isolation) and physical health problems, including increased sickness, eczema, and even the loss of hair.


Coming next: Coping with Toxic Leaders Part 2: Coping Strategies!

In his second article, Alex discusses how to cope with toxic leadership and the strategies that can be applied to any instances!

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