Great leaders inspire employees and discover more and more talents in them, while toxic managers deprive people of motivation, physical and intellectual strength. A psychotherapist talks about the harm of such bosses for both individual employees and the company as a whole.

A lot of my clients complain: “My boss is a tyrant. I need to look for a new job” or “I loved my job so much, but with the new management, the office has become unbearable. I don’t know how much more I can take.” That’s right. Working for a toxic boss significantly diminishes your quality of life.


Inadequate leaders aren’t always toxic. Some simply lack leadership skills: organisational skills and the art of communication. Such leaders harm those around them not because of inexperience, but simply out of “love of the art.” In their hands fear and intimidation are the main tools of control. They do not dispense with humiliation and threats to achieve their goals. Such leaders often have the traits of psychopaths and narcissists. They lack empathy and abuse power.


1. Job dissatisfaction

Researchers from the University of Manchester Business School found out how toxic managers affect subordinates. They surveyed 1,200 workers in different industries from several countries. Employees working under such leaders claimed to experience low levels of job satisfaction.

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan in 2016 yielded similar results. The main features of such bosses’ behaviour: rudeness, sarcasm and humiliation of subordinates – lead to psychological fatigue and unwillingness to work.

2. Depression

The researchers also found that the suffering that subordinates experienced at work extended to their personal lives. Workers who had to put up with narcissistic and psychopathic bosses were more likely to develop clinical depression.

3. Aggressive corporate culture

The behaviour of toxic managers is contagious and spreads to employees like fire in a forest. A negative workplace environment contributes to lower self-control in rank and file employees and increases the likelihood of their rude behaviour towards colleagues. Employees are more likely to criticise each other and take credit for others’ work and are more aggressive.

4. Diminishing profits

Uncivilised working relationships are not only bad for morale, but also for a company’s profitability. Researchers have estimated that a firm’s financial loss due to a productivity-reducing environment is about $14,000 per employee.


Unfortunately, many organisations measure a leader’s effectiveness based on individual performance. Sometimes toxic bosses are able to achieve short-term goals, but they don’t lead to meaningful positive change. Threats and blackmail may get employees to work 12-hour days without a day off, but this approach has only a short-term effect.

The behaviour of a toxic boss has a negative impact on motivation and productivity

As a result of ineffective management, employees are at increased risk of burnout, and constant stress in the workplace leads to decreased productivity and lack of satisfaction.

When assessing a leader’s performance, it is important to look at the bigger picture rather than individual results and remember that a leader’s performance can lead to negative consequences for the organisation.