Why Toxic Leadership Destroys Morale

Search with Ctrl + F Last updated: 2022-07-28

Career change statistics suggest that the average person will be making a career change approximately 5-7 times during their working life. Which means the likelihood of you encountering a toxic work environment may be higher than you think. Some believe that just powering through it all is the best tactic on dealing with toxic leadership, but there are some highly detrimental side effects that could follow you through to your next workplace.

Below are a few reasons why toxic leadership destroys your morale at a more core level than you may think.

Your voice isn’t heard.

When you encounter a toxic workplace where the leadership isn’t interested in ideas or commentary from the majority of the employees, you’ll start to feel unimportant and worthless over time. Maybe you spotted an area of quick improvement that wouldn’t cost a lot and would really help your fellow coworkers, but your manager dismissed you without even hearing you out. Maybe you completed a task and while trudging through it, discovered a new and more efficient way to complete it, but your boss just nodded and shooed you out of his office.

Consistently getting treated like less than a contributing member of the workplace will erode your self-worth and condition you to not speak up or think of new ways to complete things. Why bother? If leadership isn’t willing to listen or even give you the time of day, why waste your time trying to maximize the productivity of your work environment?

Creativity suffers.

Along similar lines, creativity takes a large hit when you’re operating in a toxic workplace. Because creative endeavors are not just black and white (like finance or sales), they’re vulnerable to more criticism and judgement. And when you have a toxic person in a leadership or management role, your creative side will begin to wilt. Toxic managers are prone to taking credit for things they didn’t do or have a part of, while pointing fingers and blaming others when their ideas don’t pan out.

Soon enough, you’ll find yourself unwilling to put yourself out there and stretch your creative legs. You’ve been taught by reprimand and criticism that new ideas are unwelcome and although you are the graphic designer or copywriter (or whatever other creative), you don’t know what you’re doing and need the helping hand of your toxic manager.

Years under this type of leadership results in a major creative block that could take a long time to unclog, even if you land your dream job in a healthy work environment.

Team mindset crumbles.

The general idea of taking a job is to be part of the team that supports the company in its goals, whether they’re monetary goals, growth goals, or support goals. In an ideal world, your teammates have your back, whether things go well or go south. Say a project flops horribly: in a healthy workplace, everyone learns from the situation. Everyone involved takes responsibility for their part in the project and a new strategy is laid out for future projects. No one is blamed, no one points fingers, no one acts selfishly or rudely about the project.

In a toxic environment, if a project flops, you can bet your bottom dollar that the toxic manager in charge of the project will go above and beyond to the executives that it was everyone else’s fault but his. He had no part in anything going wrong, and tried valiantly to steer the sinking ship to shore, to no avail. The employees just didn’t listen to him, he tells the executives. He would never have done things that way.

Getting blamed and having your abilities questioned is the last thing that will encourage you to work harder on the next project. Your sense of team unity has been torpedoed, and everyone involved is feeling the same way. Teammates are turning on each other in an attempt to save their jobs, when in a healthy workplace, the team would be working even closer together to make sure the same mistakes didn’t happen on the next try.

Why work for someone who doesn’t care?

Although we’ve barely touched the surface of why toxic leadership incinerates employee morale, the gist of the whole concept is this: why work your hardest for someone (or a company as a whole) that doesn’t care? If you’re suffering under a toxic manager who doesn’t listen, treats you like a number, and routinely blames everyone but himself for less-than-stellar results, why are you working there? We spend more than half our lives at work, toiling away to contribute to the greater good, and there are plenty of healthy workplaces out there that will stimulate your abilities and treat you fairly.

No job is perfect, and toxic leadership can develop anywhere, but as long as you keep in mind what’s important and know that you are worth more than suffering under a toxic manager, you can make those career changes confidently. No job is worth your self-respect, your creativity, or your morale.