Updated: Aug 2, 2020
One of the most stressful factors in anyone's work is a toxic manager and leader.
HR's best intentions to implement the most progressive wellness programs the universe has to offer may prove ineffective until we address the culprit—managers who consciously or unconsciously create excessive levels of stress for team members and contribute to toxic work environments.
How do we notice the toxicity?
It manifests in these leaders' behaviors.
They lack trust in their talent and lead from a place of fear. They question an employee's every move and act paranoid from a survival mode perspective. They attempt to control every situation, suffocating the team and inhibiting members' growth. They manage-up, take most of the credit for the team's work, and do not show appreciation for the team's contributions.
Toxic managers and leaders do not respect personal boundaries. They make requests at all hours of the day and expect a quick response. They play favorites and don't embrace diversity—you're either with them in opinion and style, or you're against them. They treat team members like commodities and prefer a transactional approach over a relationship development approach when interacting with talent.
They send mixed messages and often do not stand behind their decisions or support the team when they execute on prior choices. They lack emotional intelligence--unable to notice what is going on with their own behaviors or that of their team. They cannot manage their emotions and often have explosive episodes and unleash the frustration, anger, or upset on their staff. They work primarily from a fixed-mindset, and lack the tools to mentor and coach team members through conflict, demanding situations, and miss potential growth experiences.
These are only a few salient examples of what toxics managers and leaders do to introduce angst, anxiety, and unwelcome uncertainty in the workplace environment and work culture.
Leadership at each level of the organization shapes the culture and impacts every single employee.
What is the antidote to this toxicity?
Fearless leaders lead from a place of personal power. They know how to lead, engage, and influence others into constructive action. They communicate the team’s mission persuasively and trust in the abilities of the team to execute.
They have mastery over self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management, and use it to self-reflect, mentor, and coach their teams through challenging scenarios and issues. Because they know their unique value and how to contribute in the most effective way to inspire their teams and achieve measurable results, they also recognize, acknowledge, and encourage it in others.
Fearless leaders focus on building relationships across all levels of the organization with team members, peers, and executives. They also value life-work integration and respect and role-model for their teams the behaviors that encourage high performance and work-life integration. They know that self-care is essential to their well-being, and it is inherent in their lifestyle.
They operate from a growth mindset, devoting time to self-development, and similarly, they help their talent grow professionally and personally. That's because Fearless leaders believe that skills and abilities can improve and focus on contribution, lifting others to their full potential. They embody the attributes they admire most in other leaders. And they hold a compelling vision for themselves and aspire to leave a legacy of impact, service, and empowerment, on behalf of their team, organization, and stakeholders.
"I'll have what she's having!"
How do we develop fearless leaders? Fearless leadership is a journey inward requiring vulnerability and a heavy dose of truth serum. It does not happen by accident and instigates a level of self-discovery that isn't available "off-the-shelf" or in your typical leadership development training program.
The reality is that leaders are under tremendous pressure. We expect them to outperform the competition, deliver tangible results, lead their teams, reduce costs, increase quality, do more with less, innovate, drive their careers, all while managing their personal lives, responsibilities, and challenges, and on and on.
It would be unrealistic to expect that leaders would automatically "show up" as fearless leaders. Indeed, they may have never been trained to lead powerfully, intelligently, and with integrity, harnessing their highest self and leading from love, service, and not fear.
While toxic work environments abound, they do not have to remain that way. There is a gateway to heal leadership and shift from toxic leaders to healing leaders—those who nurture, care for employees, and recover wounded workplaces and cultures into healthy, vibrant, dynamic incubators of talent and business growth.
What is the next step?
What if our leaders had the opportunity to set out on a journey to heal and develop fearless leadership? "Sure," you may say, "How do we do that?"
The truth is that it is not easy. It is incredibly challenging for people to change behaviors. We cannot wield our power and force leaders to transform overnight. However, we can create a safe and fertile container for them to evolve. And facilitate for them to begin to recognize where they are now, hone-in on what is most important to them, where they want to be in their compelling vision, and together build a bridge to help them get there.
This level of personal introspection and transformation cannot occur in isolation. It requires enlisting leaders who at their core want what is best for the organization and the people they serve. It also necessitates a supportive community of peers walking the same path, and of course expert guidance and care. And that is precisely the solution that ExecutiveBound created in the Fearless Leadership Mastermind program, a 3-month leadership development training which focuses holistically on leaders and their evolution toward fearless leadership.
Beginning with the basics, leaders in the Fearless Leadership Mastermind program train on strengthening themselves first. They identify and begin to create self-care practices, develop their self-awareness, identifying where they are now in their leadership journey, their strengths, the outcomes they want the most for themselves and their organizations, the gaps, and how to fill them.
Then they focus on strengthening their leadership. Program members discover the qualities and skillset they need to develop to lead fearlessly, build beneficial relationships, and generate the most significant results in their businesses and careers.
Members of the Fearless Leadership Mastermind learn how to increase their emotional intelligence, gain coaching skills, and develop leadership competencies with a clear roadmap and action plan. They have an opportunity to build the bridge to get from where they are to where they need to be. And they do this gradually while they calibrate to a new way of showing up in the workplace.
They grow and flourish in a supportive environment with other leaders who relate to their journey, with the encouragement of an intuitive and visionary leadership coach who walks beside them and masterfully guides them every step of the way.
Fearless leaders are made. They rise to their potential and help their talent and businesses thrive too.
How would developing fearless leaders impact and benefit the wellness of our employees, the leaders themselves, our businesses, communities, and the economy?
What would be the highest ROI for the cost/benefit analysis?
How would healing leadership manifest and benefit the bottom line and employers' benefits costs?
These are compelling reasons to focus on the culprit—poor leadership—and neutralizing it immediately while transforming it to fearless leadership is most certainly a sustainable approach.
Stay safe and healthy, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
With love and appreication,
Coach Ginny 💕
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#1 - Check out our virtual, proven career and leadership training:
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About Dr. Ginny A. Baro
Dr. Ginny Baro is an international speaker & executive coach, and the #1 bestselling author of Fearless Women at Work. She is the CEO and founder of ExecutiveBound™ and Fearless Women @Work™ and the creator of the innovative and proven method, C.A.R.E.S. Leadership Success System™.
Ginny specializes in helping executives develop inclusive leaders. As a career strategist, she partners with talented individuals who are navigating a corporate hierarchy or transitioning into an entirely new phase of their professional careers.
She has successfully facilitated leadership training and coaching programs for global companies with over 140,000 employees and delivered keynotes impacting international audiences larger than 7,000 people.
For over two decades, Ginny held multiple Director and senior leadership roles in financial services and technology. Her academic degrees include a Ph.D. in Information Systems, an MS in Computer Science, an MBA in Management, and a BA in Computer Science and Economics. She's a Mastermind Professional and Certified Professional Coach (CPC), accredited by the International Coach Federation. For more information, visit www.executivebound.com.