How to Leave a Toxic Legacy

Bully bosses are notorious for being short-sighted—most can see no further than their immediate objective. Given how they manipulate and torture people, it might come as a surprise that many want to be liked—even loved. For a perfect example of this look no further than Donald Trump. In spite of his toxic tweets and abusive statements, he often displays the demeanor of a small child who is aching for adoration.

Ada Brunstein explores a similar type of boss in her recent New York Times essay, “In a Law Office, Coping With a Boss’s Toxic Trail.” In it, she discusses the daily abuse she and other young, female paralegals received from the estate attorney who employed them. The lawyer, whom she calls “Mr. S,” couldn’t understand why his employees disliked him and never stayed long. It couldn’t be the blatant disregard for his staff, his incessant smoking in the office, his temper tantrums or name calling, could it? In fact, his inability to retain staff ultimately hurt his business and did nothing for his legacy.

Leaders should ask themselves how they would like to be remembered. Their behavior reflects directly on how employees feel and why they feel that way and any issues on the boss’s part that impacts the workplace negatively needs to be addressed immediately. Leadership is no place for people who don’t understand—or care—how feelings drive organizational behavior.

Andrew Faas is the author of

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