7 Signs Your Company’s CEO is Toxic

Stressed Woman at Work


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AnnaMarie Houlis4.87k
Journalist & travel blogger

Just like a toxic boss or toxic colleagues, a toxic CEO can seriously shake up the workplace in a damaging way. The CEO is, of course, the top face of leadership at the company and, if he or she is not handling their role responsibly, they could spoil the company culture for everyone.

So, how do you know if your CEO is just having an off few days (or weeks), or if they're an actually toxic person? Here are seven red flags the person you work for falls within the latter camp.

1. Your CEO doesn't engage with the company.

A toxic CEO doesn’t spend time establishing rapport with anyone at the company — they may act too big for anyone else. But gaining trust and establishing open lines of communication are key for a company to run smoothly. And if no one feels like they know the CEO at all (even other leaders), this can be concerning.

2. Your CEO doesn't respect anyone's privacy.

If there’s an issue that the CEO needs to discuss with someone at the company, and they choose to do so publicly instead of individually, this can be demoralizing and humiliating. It's (in, arguably, most cases) unfair of a CEO to talk about private matters in public spaces.

3. Your CEO doesn't give credit where it's due.

Work well done deserves credit. But when a company has a success, and the CEO takes all the credit for that success without acknowledging all the moving parts and key players, it's can feel disrespectful. This is a surefire sign of a toxic CEO who could bury the motivation of their staff.

4. Your CEO doesn't lead by example.

The fact of the matter is that a true leader leads. And if your CEO is exhibiting poor behaviors at the top level, it suggests to the rest of the company that such behaviors will be tolerated. A CEO who isn't going to spoil the company culture will, instead, lead by example.

5. Your CEO makes rash decisions without consulting any other leaders.

Your CEO makes split-second decisions on behalf of the company that, frankly, blindside much of the staff. They don't ever consult other leaders in the company or think through big moves in order to make confident, informed decisions. And, sometimes, these decisions can backfire.

6. Your CEO doesn't comment on bad behavior in the workplace.

If something happens in your workplace, such as sexual harassment or assault, and it's become a public matter, your CEO should acknowledge that it has happened and that it is not acceptable. If your CEO stays silent on issues affecting those beneath them, they are essentially condoning these workplace issues just as much as if they would be if they were to applaud such behavior.

7. Your CEO isn't receptive to change.

Your CEO isn't receptive to change and, instead, is willing to risk sinking the ship for the sake of tradition. A CEO who understands business understands that times are changing, and they'll be ready to do what it takes to stay afloat for the betterment of everyone involved.

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.