Is toxic leadership contagious?

man-110307__340 What better time than Labor Day to discuss a hot issue for workers everywhere?

A Boston Globe story last month, “A Golden Age for Toxic Bosses” by Katie Johnston, confirmed my growing concern about the management style the current U.S. President exhibits and the example it sets to leaders everywhere—especially in business, where tyrannical management sometimes festers. The article points out:

    While there has been some movement toward kinder, gentler, more empathetic leaders, some fear the president’s headline-generating hostility may again make it seem OK to be a bad boss.

It also quotes a survey in which “more than half of workers say their superiors are toxic, prone to explosive outbursts, berating employees.” Meanwhile, the volatile outbursts and tongue-lashing of subordinates by the US Prez are reported almost daily. There’s an obvious downside to this, as the piece continues:

    Publicly humiliating employees can create a chaotic environment and cause other workers to lose confidence in the boss, workplace consultants say. The more petty the attack, the more employees will feel at risk. This can create less-loyal employees who are prone to act out and, say, leak damaging information to the press.

Not coincidentally, leaks to the press from White House employees—usually harsh criticisms of the POTUS—are at an all-time high.

Before I go further, I should add that much of my concern about autocratic and abusive leadership goes back to the beginning of my rock & roll days. In my twenties I witnessed several bands who were ruled by tyrants, most of which went nowhere because band members eventually quit.

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