by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic
Discussions of leadership tend to focus on its positive outcomes, such as innovation, employee engagement or organizational performance. However, for the majority of employees, the leaders in their organizations are a source of stress rather than inspiration. Indeed, for every transformational leader and emotionally intelligent manager out there, there are dozens of toxic bosses, and they come in many different forms. Barbara Kellerman at Harvard University has devoted a great deal of her career to studying problematic leaders. She identified seven major types: (1) incompetent, (2) rigid, (3) intemperate, (4) callous, (5) corrupt, (6) insular, and (7) evil. What all these types have in common is their ability to induce stress in others, particularly their subordinates. Unsurprisingly, research shows that the experience of having a bad boss can be akin to post-traumatic stress disorder.
What, then, is the best way to deal with a stress-inducing boss? Although there is no universal formula, here are three simple recommendations that generally help:
- Get inside their mind
- Don’t be a source of stress yourself
- Make your boss look good