The Toxic Leader

by | May 24, 2023

The Toxic Leader, written by Nick Roud, Award Winning Leadership Coach.

While inspiring, serving and genuine leaders bring out the very best in their people , their organisations, they have an uncanny way of just lifting the mood around the place, unfortunately we see a flip side to that coin. The Toxic Leader.

Organisation must stamp out Toxic Leaders

So what is a toxic leader? Here are some examples that have been shared with me in my coaching business.

  • they struggle to see others do well and want to take all the glory
  • they starve the room of oxygen and only allow their voice to be heard 
  • they want to wave their own flag and not help others 
  • they are not a team player and do everything they can to disrupt the organisations vision
  • they say one thing and do another
  • they play favourites
  • they deceive and intimidate others (more commonly known as bullies
  • they are not comfortable being challenged by their boss, peers and or reports
  • they chose to turn a blind eye to sub standard behaviour
  • they lie

So what does that mean if you are unfortunately working for a toxic leader and what can you do? Well there is some good news. Below are just a few things I would encourage you to consider and or put into action.

  1. Get comfortable quickly that you can’t change them. Control what you can control, don’t be drawn into behaving like the toxic leader. Try and find a way of working for them in a way that allows you to remain professional and in line with your own heigh standards and values
  2. Speak up. Toxic leaders will not last the test of time, period. It is up to you to call those leaders out. Find a trusted advisor for instant if the toxic leader is the CEO then address your concerns directly with the CEO first. If behaviour doesn’t change you will need to approach the Chair directly and share your documented evidence with that person. It is up to you to raise your fears and or concerns.
  3. Be curious! If you area able to have 1:1s with the toxic leader be curious, ask open questions, don’t get personal, don’t try and justify, try to understand where he/she is coming from and raise your thoughts fears and or concerns. This is a brave step but if don’t with the right intent can make an impact to that toxic leader as they may not realise that is how they are acting or operating
  4. Leave that manager and or organisation! If you have tried all the above and still nothing is changing for you then it’s time to find yourself another organisation. If your organisation doesn’t respect, care and genuinely value people then get out of their quickly.  Do your own due diligence when searching for your next role. Make sure you get an understanding of how your next boss operates, how does the organisation protect its staff from these types of leaders, make sure you ask around, speak to current staff and those who have left the business.  Be very clear in your exit interview and take a support person along with you if that helps you. 
  5. Don’t be afraid. I know how hard it is to speak up when you are working for a toxic leader, been their got the t-shirt and scares on my back to prove it. Speak freely to those close to you, share what is going on for you, act accordingly and always remember its how you make a person feel and don’t let that toxic leader make your life a misery. 

It starts with you, what can you control, what can you ensure happens right now so that behaviour is called out and not tolerated. No matter the size, shape or location we do have toxic leaders. There is no need for this leadership and organisations should and must come down very hard on leaders who choose to lead this way.

Nick Roud Coaching offers organisations leadership culture surveys enabling organisations a blueprint to great leadership.

Great leadership is about inspiring others to be better, to help them achieve more and to ensure their wellbeing is front and centre.

Nick Roud, Leadership Coach

Nick Roud is the founder of Nick Roud Coaching, his work has won numerous global leadership development awards, he is a coach to successful CEOs, executives and emerging leaders. A dyslexia introvert that quietly goes about helping leaders lead. You can find our more about Nick 1:1 leadership coaching work by visiting 


For a confidential conversation about your leadership coaching needs, call Nick on +6421375630 or email him

Nick Roud

Nick Roud

Executive Leadership Coach

Nick is the Chairman of Nick Roud Coaching and a Global Award Winning Executive Coach. Nick holds the highest coaching qualification MCEC. His clients are typically Chief Executive Officers, Executives and Emerging Leaders. Nick’s office is based in Auckland, New Zealand and he travels extensively around the world to coach his clients. You can contact Nick directly on +6421375630