Dealing with a toxic boss and how to avoid being one

Dealing with a toxic boss and how to avoid being one | practice (split each time) | Working out the kinks when leading your former coworkers
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February 27, 2024
SmartBrief on Leadership
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Leading the Way
Dealing with a toxic boss and how to avoid being one
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Bad bosses come in many flavors -- the micromanager, the toxic jerk, the one who withholds feedback and the one that goes missing when you need them most, writes Kathleen Davis, the host of "The New Way We Work" podcast, who suggests being direct and expressing what you need from them, and being aware if you're becoming them. Holding anonymous 360 reviews can help reveal your own blind spots, especially if others are wary of telling you where you may be falling short as a leader, Davis suggests.
Full Story: Fast Company (tiered subscription model) (2/26) 
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Put it into practice: You could be an absentee manager if you find yourself too busy to check in with your direct reports, or you could be a withholder if you avoid giving feedback that seems critical or may hurt your team member's feelings, Davis writes. "A critical part of advancing in your career or getting a promotion is receiving feedback, and when you don't receive any, you don't know what to improve."
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SmartBrief on Leadership
Working out the kinks when leading your former coworkers
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Supervising people who were coworkers until your recent promotion can feel awkward, but you can take specific actions to change the dynamic, consultant Alaina Love writes. Love's six-step solution includes having the uncomfortable conversations and setting expectations and timelines.
Full Story: SmartBrief/Leadership (2/26) 
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Put it into practice: Gather the team to reevaluate the value of existing projects to renew enthusiasm or make room for new projects. Take a team member aside if necessary to emphasize expectations, and give the team regular encouragement along the way, Love suggests.
Read more from Alaina Love on SmartBrief on Leadership
Smarter Communication
A great communicator is "a strategic, empathetic, and tireless sharer of the information employees need to hear," Ted Kitterman of Great Place to Work writes. Kitterman offers examples of communicating through your employees' channels, ensuring managers get training on conducting one-on-ones and being candid and human.
Full Story: Great Place to Work (2/26) 
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Put it into practice: "To be someone that others will follow, you must communicate your vision, share updates about progress toward your goals, and make sure every employee knows how they are expected to contribute to those goals," Kitterman writes.
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Smarter Strategy
How do you handle it when a customer is surprised by a fee you charge that is clearly stated in your contract?
We point out the clause and charge the fee
We compromise somewhat on the fee but still charge something
We forgive the fee the first time and acknowledge the miscommunication
We renegotiate the contract to remove controversial fees
Profit or relationship. When a customer is legitimately surprised by a fee that's in the contract but that they were unaware of or didn't fully understand, two-thirds of you report explaining the fee and charging it. The other third of you make some form of accommodation in either reducing or forgiving the fee (or even removing them from your contracts).

This raises the question for all of you -- how clear are you about explaining fees in the first place? It's easy to gloss over them but you're setting yourself up for conflict down the road when the customer isn't aware of the fee or doesn't understand them.

When the time comes to decide how to deal with the fee assessment, recognize that charging it does improve profit in the near term but creates risk of customer loss if they leave the interaction with a bad feeling toward you for fully charging them a "surprise" fee. Consider the long-term profit impacts of making a small concession in the near term to build a customer relationship that lasts for a long time.

-- Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS, which includes TITAN -- the firm's e-learning platform. Previously, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a West Point graduate and author of three leadership books: "One Piece of Paper," "Lead Inside the Box" and "The Elegant Pitch."
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In Their Own Words
The only way to make diversity, equity and inclusion work is to make it part of the corporate structure itself, not a human resources add-on because that's when its success will be tied to company success, says Jen Mahone-Rightler, founder of the diversity and inclusion firm Elements2Inclusion. "If I go in and have these conversations with executives, whether they're old school, new school, new age, new world, all they want to know is: What is it about diversity that is going to help the bottom line of the business?" Mahone-Rightler says.
Full Story: Success magazine (2/2024) 
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Daily Diversion
Can you say "research"? Kids shows require a ton of it
(Richard Termine/HBO)
Children's shows such as "Sesame Street" and "Clifford the Big Red Dog" do extensive research on content that will most effectively convey their message, using characters who speak directly to the camera and allowing time for children to respond or using adult-targeted humor so kids can see adults interacting, too, writes University of California associate professor Davis Drew Cingel and his research team. If children don't respond to the intended message or get distracted, entire episodes will be edited or scrapped altogether, Cingel notes.
Full Story: The Conversation (2/23) 
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SmartBreak: Question of the Day
Bayard Rustin was a key organizer of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and his activism is central to a recent biopic. Which actor portrays Rustin?
VoteMike Colter
VoteColman Domingo
VoteIdris Elba
VoteLeslie Odom Jr.
About The Editor
Candace Chellew
Candace Chellew
Toxic bosses -- I've had a few. I'm confident you have, too. What I find most interesting about Kathleen Davis' article is the advice to make sure you haven't become one yourself. That's a way for us to even sympathize with the bad bosses we've had before. Maybe no one dared to tell them they were slipping away to the dark side before it was too late!

Davis' advice to conduct a 360 anonymous review is solid. People are likelier to tell you the truth if they feel they won't be reprimanded. This is also why leaders need trusted advisors they can go to for a clear-eyed view of their leadership skills and style.

Suppose you're slipping into any of these lousy boss categories -- the micromanager, the absentee manager, the toxic jerk or the withholder. In that case, it's time to take corrective measures to get back on track.

If this newsletter helps you, please tell your colleagues, friends or anyone who can benefit. Forward them this email, or send this link.

What topics do you see in your daily work that I should know about? Do you have praise? Criticism? Drop me a note. And don't forget to send me photos of your pets, your office and where you spend your time off.
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Don't give up. Don't give up the struggle. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Desmond Tutu,
Anglican archbishop, theologian, human rights activist, Nobel Peace Prize winner
February is Black History Month
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