A recent study in Sweden found a strong link between the health of employees and the quality of an organization’s leadership. Wally Bock points out that while we can understand that leaders can impact our productivity and performance – the link with health – our health means that we owe a duty of care to ourselves to work on a solution to this issue.

Wally points out that no-one sets out to be a “toxic boss”, and that this situation arises under three situations:

  • Your supervisor may not know how to do the job that you want them to
  • Your supervisor may not have the resources needed
  • Some supervisors can’t or won’t learn how to perform well in their job

As a business leader, you can certainly assist in the first two scenarios. You can provide training and support for your management team. But it is the third situation that requires decisive action. If the behavior and actions of your supervisors is impacting the performance of their teams or their health, then you have no choice but to replace them.

However, as Erika Andersen points out, our organizations operate like tribes. We can’t simply cut out and replace our employees with a carbon copy:

An organization is a tribe, or series of interconnected tribes, and a tribe is a system. The members of that system are interdependent.  It’s necessary, in an organization, to remove and add people, but if you do it cog-fashion, it will impact the whole system in ways both invisible (confusion, fear, hesitation, sadness, disorientation, anger) and visible (less creativity, fewer reasonable risks taken, lowered productivity, increased turnover, subtle and overt sabotage).

The challenge for us, as leaders, is to make the decision, take action, and then support our teams during the transition. Communicating clearly, sharing knowledge and investing in the success of the remaining team is paramount – good “people skills” are essential. As Peter Vajda points out in Twenty Indictaors of Failing at Leadership, “No memo, policy or system will ever make up for leaders, managers and supervisors who are deficient in people skills.” If you don’t want the sickness to spread, start communicating.

Nina Nets It Out: While poor supervisors can impact our organization, so can our decisions to replace them. Understanding the interconnectedness of our people, the systems and processes can help ensure any transition happens with minimal impact.