Toxic Management 101

In my career, I have crossed paths with many bosses and leaders, and I have learned from all of them. I learned from the good that I wanted to imitate, and of course, from the bad that everyone should avoid. Here are some stories so that we can see what we deal with every day and what we would do with each one.

Have you ever had a really bad boss? Well, I have, and I have had several. Without giving names, of course, I am going to tell some stories. They all have a common basis, the “Patron de Estancia” boss who bullies the workers. This is perhaps an old concept, but today it would be the eternal bully who bothered us in primary school and enjoyed mistreating everyone to demonstrate their superiority (in strength).

Not only bosses, but some partners I had also fall into this category. The important thing is their imprint. They manage to make people put up with them until they find some option to leave. I have heard some say in public, “No matter what you do to them, you will see that they won’t leave,” and they are somewhat right. Those of us who work in what we like, or who have the need to bring income to our homes, take care of our work and “endure” negative attitudes, but everything has a limit.

Over time and with experience, I managed to create a shield of strength that does not let bully attitudes pass and makes me even laugh in the bully’s face in some cases or not react in others and make the attacker more nervous. I received the most glorious phrase in my career for this attitude: “I’m insulting you, and you’re not reacting!!! Don’t you have any blood?” And with that, I completely disarmed their attitude.

Next, I will leave you with some models of bad bosses. I don’t know if it helps much, but the important thing is that you know that you are not alone, someone else has suffered it, and there are simple ways to overcome it.

Micro-Management Narcissist

No one likes to be micromanaged. Whether you are a leader, someone your employees admire, instead of trying to control them at a micro level, inspire them by leading by example with your work ethic, integrity, and treating people with respect.

The motivational tactic of a bad manager is to threaten people’s jobs. A leader should be the teacher and find ways to help people improve. Managing by fear causes employees to lose confidence in the company. The first chance they get, they will leave the ship. An old boss of mine wanted to ban smoking in the open space of the office and wanted to monitor phone lines and chats because he suspected each employee. These types of aggressive passive behaviors show a lack of trust and respect.

Creating office politics and soap opera-like dramas

This manager confronted their people face-to-face. They told one person something that someone else said, and then told the other person the same thing was being said about them. Office politics kills morale, and as a manager, it’s important to do things to prevent it from perpetuating. Don’t be vengeful. Create a positive environment where people want to come to work every day.

One of my most important jobs, and one that brought me the most joy, was left when office politics took over management. I’m sure that managing by hearsay will ruin the dynamics of that company, and the unfair competition of people without any ability other than spreading gossip.

Lying and being unprofessional with clients

At some point, I came across an individual lying to clients on more than one occasion. Whether for personal gain or to cover up their own mistakes, they caused the client to lose trust in what we had built, and they walked away from us, despite our excellent quality work. Mishandling and lying to clients to get more business only wears down the relationship and ultimately breaks it.

We need to be part of the client’s strategy, not just providers who want to collect their fee and move on. If we don’t accept that we are as responsible for the client’s success as they are, then we are in the wrong place. And this is achieved with trust.

Personal problems stay at the door of the office

More than once, our personal problems outside of work break through the walls and create distractions. This is already complicated because it affects our focus and productivity. But what happens when our boss is the one going through this situation and unloads their anger and problems on us?

We need to be able to avoid this attitude and address it to the person who generates it so they understand that they must isolate those problems.

Abrasive communication style

I used to curse during meetings with managers and employees and use public humiliation to disqualify people. Cursing at employees will get you in trouble with human resources in most companies. If HR turns a blind eye like they did in my case, expect a massive employee exodus.

And don’t forget, you may encounter someone having a bad day and end up with a black eye. Remember, all you show by insulting and humiliating others is how low you can be as a person.


No one likes someone who knows everything and can’t do anything wrong. Don’t take all the credit when things go well and then be the first to blame when things go wrong.

Have you ever felt that pit in your stomach on Sunday just thinking about how Monday is only a day away and you have to go back to work? Well, I’m glad I don’t feel that anymore. That place is in my rearview mirror.

While this experience shook me to the core, it tested my inner resolve and led me to new career heights that I never could have imagined. I learned and grew from it. I’m also a better leader because I see the effects of poor management on a company.

Have you had a similar experience? Share it, that’s what sharing experiences is all about learning.

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