Coping with Toxic Managers, Subordinates ... and Other Difficult People: Using Emotional Intelligence to Survive and Prosper

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9780131409958: Coping with Toxic Managers, Subordinates ... and Other Difficult People: Using Emotional Intelligence to Survive and Prosper

Many managers engage in destructive behavior that does considerable harm to their subordinates, their organization and eventually themselves. Whether they are narcissistic, unethical, rigid or aggressive, or simply depressed/anxious/burned out, working with them can be a nightmare. Moreover, they can do serious damage to their organizations by diverting energy from productive work, damaging cooperation and knowledge sharing, impairing retention of the best people, weakening morale, and making poor business decisions. In Coping with Toxic Managers, psychiatrist and organizational consultant Dr. Roy Lubit shows you how to develop your emotional intelligence and protect yourself and your organization from the destructive impact of toxic managers. While there are many organizational consultants who utilize psychological insights in their work and psychologists who consult to organizations, Dr. Lubit's depth of training and experience in psychiatry, organizational behavior and organizational consulting provides a basis for unique insights

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About the Author:

Dr. Roy H. Lubit trained in psychiatry at Yale, wrote a Ph.D. dissertation on organizational learning at Harvard, researched organizational behavior at Columbia Business School, and taught organizational behavior at the City University of New York's Zicklin School of Business. He is a senior consultant to the Center for Social and Emotional Education and a member of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations.

His professional training and extensive experience in both psychotherapy and organizational dynamics are very unusual. Many people are trained in one of these areas and do some work in the other. Deep involvement in both provides a foundation for unique insights.

Dr. Lubit coaches executives; runs leadership workshops; consults to corporations, governmental agencies, and law firms on a variety of organizational issues; and conducts research on fostering emotional intelligence. Dr. Lubit has appeared widely on TV and radio and presented numerous times at professional conferences.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

This book is written for

  • People who must deal with narcissistic, unethical, aggressive, rigid, depressed, or anxious individuals and want to know how to more effectively manage the situation.
  • Senior managers and human resource professionals who are concerned about toxic managerial behavior in their organization.
  • Those who want to enhance their interpersonal skills and advance their career.

Toxic managers dot the landscape in most organizations making them feel, at times, like war zones. These managers can complicate your work, drain your energy, compromise your sanity and destroy your career. You may not yet have been subjected to aggressive, manipulative, unethical, rigid, or narcissistic behavior by bosses or subordinates. If so, count yourself lucky. In time, however, you will almost certainly experience such behavior.

Your ability to deal with difficult managers will have a significant impact on your career. The knowledge you gain from reading this book will help you to deal with them and to avoid letting them derail your projects and your career. This book will help you learn how to recognize toxic managers sooner so that you will be better able to protect yourself. You will develop your understanding of what makes them tick so that you can more effectively design a course of action to deal with their destructive behavior. Some managers are toxic because they are clueless about their effect on others; some are toxic because they do not care if they hurt others; some are toxic because they enjoy hurting others; and some are toxic because they are simply overwhelmed with stress. You will learn how to avoid becoming a scapegoat, how to survive aggressive managers' assaults, and how to give narcissistic and rigid managers the things they need to be satisfied with you. This book can also help you to recognize toxic behavior in yourself, to realize its impact on others, and to contain it.

First and foremost, this book is designed to increase the emotional intelligence of the reader. By helping the reader to understand different types of difficult personalities and suggesting ways to more effectively deal with them, it will improve the reader's social competence. For those who are brave enough to recognize difficult behavior in themselves, it will increase their personal competence as well.

The last chapter provides a toolkit for developing your emotional intelligence, shielding yourself from some of the pain toxic managers generally cause, and for senior management and human resources to better protect their organization from the destructive impact of toxic managers.

This book is designed to be easy to understand. No prior knowledge of psychology is needed. It provides concrete, easy-to-follow solutions to ameliorate the impact of toxic behavior. It also provides a sophisticated understanding of why people behave in destructive ways. Understanding the motivations for toxic behavior is not a sidelight. The basic premise of the book is that understanding the different types of toxic managers and the different motivations that can drive a certain type of toxic behavior is crucial to selecting an effective way to cope.

The stories in this book are, unfortunately, true. The names and identifying details have been changed to protect the guilty as well as the innocent. These are events I witnessed or was told about by those who experienced them. I did not use examples from my work as a therapist and executive coach.

For Senior Managers, HR, and Professionals

This book will be of interest to senior management and human resources as well as to those with a difficult superior. It is built on an understanding of organizational dynamics and the business environment. It discusses how rigid, unethical, and aggressive behaviors affect productivity and retention and explores what HR and senior management can do to contain this behavior in their organization. In addition, by helping the reader to understand different personality types it enables managers to more effectively motivate, persuade, and develop all of the individuals they work with. The more you can tailor your management style to each individual, the more success both you and those who report to you will have.

Many researchers on organizational productivity and success have argued that the key to success lies not in having the perfect strategy, nor in being in the right industry, nor in having an ideal change management plan, nor in charismatic leadership. Rather, the key to success is growing your human resources. Jim Collins writes in Good to Great: "We expected to find that good-to-great leaders would begin by setting a new vision and strategy. We found instead that they first got the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and then the right people in the right seats—and then they figured out where to drive it." Charles O'Reilly and Jeffrey Pfeffer in Hidden Value discuss how companies have gotten extraordinary results out of ordinary people and how this is the key to success in today's economy.

These researchers focus attention on the crucial role of leadership concentrating on the organization's values and culture. These are very important. But, there is another crucial part of the equation that is less talked about: dealing with the toxic managers who damage the productivity of those under them and above them. Toxic managers interfere with the development of social capital and with the ability and desire of people to trust each other and to be willing to go out of their way for each other. Social capital is very important in improving productivity. In addition to motivating and guiding workers through a strong culture, companies need to remove the obstacles to their performance by decreasing the toxic behavior they face and improving their skills to deal with difficult bosses. Intensive efforts in this area are as yet an unexplored but potentially fruitful area for organizational improvement. It holds tremendous potential for unlocking blocked productivity and for improving the company's ability to hire and retain the best people. Working on the company's culture is an important lever in improving how people treat each other. It is not, however, the only lever. The book discusses many different levers to building organizations in which people can grow and give their best.

Outline of this Book

This book is divided into five parts:

  • Part I—Narcissistic managers
  • Part II—Unethical Managers
  • Part III—Aggressive Managers
  • Part IV—Rigid Managers
  • Part V—Impaired Managers
  • Part VI—Developing and Harnessing Emotional Intelligence

Each part begins with an introduction to the general issues covered in the section: narcissism, unethical behavior, aggression, rigidity, and impairment. The introductions also begin the explanation of the differences between the types of managers discussed in that part so that you can quickly go to the type of manager you are having difficulty with and read that chapter in detail. Differentiating between different types of toxic managers is crucial, since interventions that work with one type of rigid or aggressive manager would backfire with another even though their behavior is similar on the surface. Chapters on the different types of toxic managers begin with a discussion of how those managers behave and what drives their behavior. Detailed examples of such managers follow. The chapters then move on to discuss ways to cope with toxic managers above you and below you. The end of each chapter, and several of the special chapters, discuss how senior management and human resources can recognize potentially toxic managers early in their career, help toxic managers to contain their problematic behavior, place them so that they will not adversely affect the organization, and determine when to get rid of them.

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