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How to Subtly Manage Toxic Leadership With Coaching Skills
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How to Subtly Manage Toxic Leadership With Coaching Skills

There are few things as disheartening as working in an uncommunicative, oppressive work environment. Usually, as employees, we look to upper management to set the tone and provide solid, thoughtful leadership.

If our manager is a good one, our work environment usually reflects that… the employees are generally cheerful, productive, and proactive in their duties and relationships.

But unfortunately, the best case scenario isn’t always the reality.

A boss with self-centered, insecure, long-winded, abrasive, or indecisive tendencies can cause waves that upset the entire “feel” of a department. And, sadly, the ripples don’t stop when you walk out the front door at the end of the day. Trouble at work usually finds its way home, upsetting your life with partners, kids, recreational buddies, and even disturbing what should be quiet restorative time.

This traditional, top-down, authoritative style of management is what most of us expect, but it’s not the best or even the healthiest way to do things.

As new workers, new products, and new business models have entered mainstream corporate culture, so has the idea that workplaces should be fluid and adaptive.

Employees today, particularly millennials, are rarely content with “good enough” environments, and the latest communication trends and research back up this push toward more collaborative spaces. YOU can be the source of profound organizational change at your workplace, you just need a few proven tools and techniques to help you navigate the situation.

If you’re in a toxic work environment, you have three options:

1. Tolerate the situation and tough it out.

Most people will try to make the best of things, at least for a little while. There’s nothing wrong with this approach, but in the long run it’s not sustainable, and it typically only works if you’re truly OK with how things are.

2. Leave the company and find a position that suits you better.

Once the situation becomes intolerable, people begin looking for other options. Given the opportunity, most people will move on, hoping that a change will fix the problems. But change isn’t always an option, and it’s natural to fear that you’ll be leaving the frying pan only to end up in the fire.

3. Decide that change starts with you, and work to remedy the situation.

Addressing and fixing the situation is obviously the most difficult option, but it’s also your best chance of creating positive, lasting change. It also opens opportunities to get noticed, recognized, and maybe even promoted for the right reasons.

Obviously, this is the choice I recommend! But I also recognize that it’s all well and good to say “Okay, we need to change things around here!” but how do you actually go about doing it?

I subscribe to the concept of “Managing Up,” which coincidentally, dovetails nicely with the skills we teach here at iPEC Coaching.

To successfully “manage up,” you set the example instead of waiting for upper management to have an epiphany. You take the lead by asking questions of management and coworkers, taking the initiative on new projects, and providing solutions instead of objections.

Coaching skills make each of these tasks infinitely easier and can help you positively influence a toxic work environment by:

Identifying the root cause of the problem. Whether the issues are coming from management styles, personality conflicts, or poor communication, you’ll be able to listen to yourself and others more deeply, cutting past the surface drama to accurately identify what is going on.

Being more aware and showing up from a place of neutral objectivity. Not only does coach training teach you to be more aware of subtle cues, but it gives you the framework and practice to respond to others from a compassionate, calm place.

Setting a positive example for those around you. Remember the saying, “A rising tide lifts all boats?” Subtly employed coaching skills bleed over to the people around you. Over time, you’ll notice them echoing your attitude and techniques and ultimately meeting you in your energetic space, rather than keeping interactions bogged down with negativity.

This “covert coaching” effectively changes the tone and direction of conversations and interactions within the workplace. And, when consistently applied, you may become the ‘go to’ person at the office… effectively keeping your name top of mind for the next time promotions roll around.

The iPEC Coach Training Program makes this type of solution possible because you have a foundation from which to listen and dig beyond the surface problems. You’ll be trained in how to ask empowering questions that allow employees and managers to access innate knowledge and develop effective solutions for the difficulties they’re facing.

Combining these skills with the “Managing Up” strategy means you’re coaching down, sideways, and up to make a difference in your workplace.

Are you in need of a positive change? Click here to request a session with an Admissions Coach and ask for me, Theresa. Together, we can talk about your specific situation and explore how coaching skills can help you make a profound impact on your workplace culture.

About Theresa Horezga, CPC

Theresa Horezga is the iPEC Certified Professional Coach that helps burned out leaders find their passion, discover what’s most important, and take action steps to create the life they (truly) want to live.

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