How do you handle a toxic work culture?


So we get a lot of questions from
people who work in toxic leadership environments and they ask,
what are they to do? How do they
be the leader they wish they had? Well, being the leader you wish you had
means you commit yourself to the care and success of
those around you. Remember, leadership has nothing to do with rank. I know many people who sit
at the highest levels of organizations who are not leaders.
They have authority, which is why we do as they tell us but we would not follow them.
Leadership can happen at any rank. The choice you have to make is do you want to be the leader?
Now leadership comes with risks. If you speak truth to power,
you could get in trouble. If you’re the one who stands in between the powers that be
and the people that you work with, if you’re gonna commit yourself to work late sometimes
to help people and make those sacrifices, you’re gonna have to take those risks. That’s why not everyone wants to be a leader because it does come with real
sacrifice and real risk. But if you want to be that person, if you want to be the leader
you wish you had, you look to your left,
you look to your right and you say,
how can I help them succeed? Number one:
if you see somebody on your team struggling ask them if they’re okay. Ask them if you can help.
If you know that somebody doesn’t know how to do something, sit down and show them. Ask them if you want them to
double check your work. Remember, a big way in which
we build trust is not actually by offering for help but also
asking for help. So one of the things you can do by being a leader is also asking for those
around you to help. Let them feel like they’re empowered to help those around them
and in the course of time you will build a level of trust on your team
that they will see you as the person who has their back. And you get used to it.
It’s a practice like many other like any other skills.
You want to ride a bicycle, you have to practice,
you get good at it. Leadership is the same. Get in the habit of
considering the lives of others. If someone’s running for the elevator,
the doors are closing, you’re running late for a meeting.
Instead of just letting the doors close, hold the door open for somebody.
If you’re the last person to pour yourself a cup of coffee at the office,
instead of putting the empty pot back make another pot of coffee. It’s little, little things
where you consider those around you, the lives of others,
sometimes ahead of yourself and be willing to sacrifice time and energy
to help those around you.




Comments
  1. This might sound Childish but what if you help and the other person is just taking Advantage of you. Do you still continue to be the same person for them?

  2. This has nothing to do with toxic work culture, people bickering, sabotaging each other, and throwing each other under the bus to come up on top.. Making a new batch of coffee? Holding the elevator door? WTF are you talking about Simon, who's weed brownies did you accidentally stumble upon..

  3. offer help in a toxic environment? lul you're gonna get emotionally abused most likely

    aspects of psychological /socio-emotional health like toxicity, loneliness, human disconnection are common in any type of environment (be it work, academic or domestic). one aspect of society that i like to look at is the economic system, as it seems to be a fundamental cause of competitiveness and exclusivity, thus affecting the quality of human relations as well

  4. I never considered asking for help as a sign for helping becoming a better leader too.
    Really brought up a new perspective for me thank you!

  5. just an unrelated aside, but your videos and ideas are some of the most thoughtful and well considered opinions I've encountered both on YouTube and in the real world at large. Thanks for taking the time to share with all of us, you're nudging people to be better.

  6. Love all the vids recently. Just wondering of you could do a video based on school enviroment instead of work. Probably a few similarities but would help people in secondary schools or college

  7. I love it. and it doesn't apply only to people that want to become a leader… everyone working in any organization should practice these values. Our life at work would be much more fulfilling and we would go to the office with a smile knowing it's a nice place to be.

  8. You leave…… Like I have just done.
    Why should I make myself unhappy to please you.
     The world has just become a nasty place & so has many of the work places

    Unfortunately some people are just so nasty and self centered I would rather leave than continue to work with them.

  9. This is so refreshing – I appreciate your point that leadership can exist at every level of an organization. I've noticed that the "grass-roots" leadership – empowering others and letting others empower you – can often have a more positive impact on company culture than top down approaches.

  10. Leadership is also about INTEGRITY (or doing the right thing even when no one is looking). Like what Simon said, make another pot of coffee when you had the last cup, so others can have their coffee – presumably also when no one is looking. Fully agree – leaders ask if you need help. They explore ways and provide the tools/methodology for you to succeed. Non-leaders just judge your performance and output regardless.

  11. the worst work enviroment in the U.S now is working at the white house and the administration. maybe its because of that person who think he is the best leader in the world but failed in every leadership catagory and he call himself the president. I dont even think Simon can help that situation much

  12. It's hard to lead in a toxic environment. It's exhausting. It results in punishment. In such environments, when you do 'step up' it's looked upon as challenging authority and power. It's disagreeing with Good 'Ol Boys and having them wreck you. BTW – you never seem to get fired as long as you keep the customer and the Sales people fat and happy. They'll torture you forever if the customers like you, and you can't steal them away from the company if you leave. I don't mind the little things: helping and committing to the team, but it gets old, and you begin to realize there's no changing the executive mindset of "get the sale". The $.33/hr raise year after year just isn't enough to do management's 'job' (which is sales, not leading – same thing to them) because they can't be bothered. It's shameful. It's…well…toxic. So, you do all of those things, and then, you exit. As soon as you can.

  13. Most toxic workplaces do not allow those who are lower on the totem pole to act as leaders, to voice complaints, or to stand up for fellow employees, they see you as replaceable and will fire you, rather than make changes for the better.

  14. Mostly right "BUT"…there are always folks out there not playing that game with you. There are narcissists out there. There are psychopaths out there. There are sociopaths out there. Ok, the percentage of each group is small, BUT if you have a team of 15 to 30 persons, your chances are pretty high to have one in your team. If you are dealing with care workes, nurses and so forth and so on, your chances are bigger than 10% to have borderliners in your team. You are absolutely right building an environment at work based on trust, support and everything else to make a team a team…but if you want to fight toxic work culture, you also have to take care of preventing and defending your team against these sources of toxicity. I know that non of them has chose to be a person with this stuff, but as a leader it is not your job to take care for them…it is the leaders job to defend the team against those threads. To give a drastic example take black death – you can't blame the people for being ill but you wouldn't let an infected person work in a Kindergarten. Thanx for your stuff – it is a beautiful source of inspiration an knowledge.

  15. Please can you advice me on other good advice videos you have done _ more in terms of the order to watch them in. I will keep you as my you tube mentor. I hope you do respond as I know you are more interested in helping mankind rather than fame and fortune. God bless and thank you.

  16. u did not answer the question of toxic environment! i just resigned yesterday because of toxic environment…your explanation did not help 😞

  17. Hi Mr. Sinek, your ideas has been extremely helpful in my leadership development over the last 5 years. We run a youth development program and I would love to ask you a few questions on organizational culture. Hope to hear from you. Thanks

  18. Good leaders are those who listen to their employees. Good leadership is about understanding the people who are working for someone.

  19. Leadership has one key ingredient that is external to the leader but must occur first before any leadership can ever take place. Leadership can only occur in organizations or groups that have a meaningful purpose built on truth people believe in. Without that belief and purpose it will always be toxic and ordinary conformist managers will take over. Perhaps a leader might rise above it and restore that purpose or even create new belief, or not. But it must be built on truth or it will fail again and again. This is why the current US military has NO leadership….they have no meaningful purpose built on truth. The US military is currently just a managed toxic mess with people going through the motions of having a career. No meaningful purpose, means NO leadership. Which is why in all toxic organizations if that purpose can not be restored, it is better to leave and find purpose elsewhere. Lest you lead your own exhausted life without meaningful purpose.

  20. The director of my department has told my co workers negative things about me . This damages my work relationships with them . He’s attempting to make the environment toxic for me. It’s tough to fight back against this . If I complain it could become worse for me . Employers have the upper hand contrary to what is out there .

  21. Hey Simon. I am a volunteer conference speaker on mental health in the workplace. You are my model as a speaker. We have not shared a stage, yet! 😊
    My why is clear….I do it to help others cut through the stress by bringing perspective to this anxiety-ridden, pressure-filled society. Loftily, I wish to contribute to changing the way we do business….people first. If ever u want to take someone under your wing, I'd love to learn from you.

  22. Unfortunately, most are more that happy to take advantage of you if you give freely of yourself to others. They take it for granted. Next time they just expect it, then they stab you in the back, complain about you, for their own incompetence, laziness. Done with that. Now, I just let people fail by themselves. Sick of going out of my way to help people, the getting f'd for it. F them.

  23. I never had to practice. It's just who I am. And all it seems to have gotten me is fucked by the people above. Now I need a new job. I think this time I'll just keep my mouth shut and my head down.

    What I can say for sure is, if you want to get ahead, you need to take credit for everyone else's hard work and pass off every idea as your own. Otherwise you'll just disappear into the background while some snake get's ranked up…

  24. Mr.Simon Thank you for every thing .. I'm big fan..your biggest fan 😂😂😍you are a Inspirational… Can you attach an english subtitles with your Videos…

  25. Being a leader the way Simon describes in an environment where every minute of every workday is tracked electronically and where you are actively discouraged from speaking with your co-workers will definitely get your fired. In America there are many businesses that operate in this manner and only the "yes" people will get promotions within that kind of culture. These companies preach "innovation, integrity, open door policy", etc but it is not truly welcomed. I believe that companies that operate in this manner will eventually fail or be forced to make many difficult changes (most likely due to legal involvement) so it's up to the individual to decide if they want to endure years of this "Big Brother" culture or move on to greener pastures.

  26. I understand the "getting in trouble" aspect. I use to work at a thrift store, and a lot of people who were hired part time were people who had mental disabilities. In that case, they needed a lot of help and reminders in the beginning to get them "set" for their work routine. Which can take up to a month or two months depending on the individual. I noticed both my assistant manager and manager only taught them the first and 2nd week to teach them how to do their job. I've seen this time and time again within a year working there that after those few weeks; those managers started to get angry with them; and started gossiping about them and complained that they had to do everything because they couldn't do it. I took it into account to help those people by showing them where things are, how to do something quicker and guide them with their job. I never do their job, I just re-direct them. But.. because of that; I was getting a bad rep with the managers because they felt I wasn't doing my job, but my co-workers enjoyed having me there because I was supportive in every way possible i could make out to be. But… as the months go by, 1 little slip up at a thrift store of all places got me sent to the office and they treated me as if my job was being threaten. I knew I wasn't liked by them. Then because I had a lot of stress going on, I had one faint spell at the register and I was just sent home. I thought it was understanding but 3 days later, they told me to quit my job or else I would had a bad rep with the company. IT sounded like they didn't want to take responsibility for work injury, but it was way too much at that point. So I just quit the day later with a kind letter. 2 months later I was told by a co-worker that half of the staff quit shortly after I did… It really makes a difference on how you be a leader to people. If you quit, people might just do the same.

  27. Thanks Simon! I would like to know more about how to handle the relationship with your boss more effectively, I tend to be very honest and frank, and I'm thinking about this phrase you just said "If you speak truth to power, you could get in trouble", I see myself there, is there anything you could recommend me to read or see? Thanks again!

  28. Simon…love your videos. Great advice. However, a toxic workplace is like walking thru Chernobyl. You have to have protective gear and realize you have daily exposure that causes short term physical and health effects…maybe long term. You have to shower off the toxic waste you are exposed to daily. Don’t bring it home and talk about it or you risk polluting your home and loved ones. Daily injections of fitness, eating, sleep, etc are needed to bring toxic levels down in your system. Thanks for the advice of taking in the good fight, but in the end, a toxic boss won’t always change. Can’t make nuclear fallout change its nature…all you can do is decontaminate the environment by removing the source….the bad boss. Too bad that you as the employee will also risk your own livelihood elevating the issue. If that’s a real risk, get out of that company as fast as possible because it’ll only get worse higher you go in promotions.

  29. Just left another toxic office environment. One week in everyone was dumping their work on me and talking about how horrible management was..ran for my life.

  30. One important thing about a good work environment for me is it must feel free…. free to go to the toilet when you want without someone saying you're taking too many breaks if you go twice within 4.5 hrs for 2 mins each…. one in which you're free to chat, within reason… have a quick chat with a colleague…. most professional environments allow for this… set at certain professional limits of course… if you're chatting all the time, then its a problem. Its part of trust… of treating employees like professional people rather than kids. When I moved from the low level office environments to a professional engineering company and then onto a major consultancy that is what I noticed…. you're free to do those things… they only care about one thing… your work. How good is your work? Are you meeting targets? Well, I left the consultancy and work for a small firm now… but I negotiated a higher salary. Anyway… they're actually starting to moan about me taking toilets breaks (2 in four hours…. quick ones!). When I ask how my work is etc… "oh you're doing really well". So, my works ok… just they think I should sit at a desk for hours without moving. This is a problem. So I pulled them into a meeting about it… negotiated some adjustments that I would make to break lengths to account for any time I might be away from my desk to go to….. the toilet and of course I stayed all constructive about the situation… not negative. I have worked in professional firms.. never have I been told I use the toilet too much. But now I'm feeling like I can't walk away from my desk and am under supervision…. and its pissing me off and ruining the environment. I'm at the point now where if there is one more thing or they try to raise anything else I'll just leave… because its not worth staying in an environment you're incompatible with. If there is a problem with work…. speed or accuracy then that IS something they should focus on as that is what I am paid to do. Otherwise they need to back the frack off!

  31. Be the change, build the environment you want. You can’t control other people or the outcomes of how people react to what you put out into the world. But you can be the person and contribute to building the environment you desire with your daily actions rooted in empathy. Worry less about being right and more about being human. Your team will stand apart from the other teams (and this often brings attacks from other leaders looking to win) but continue to move forward and be what you want everyone else to be.

  32. "This doesn't explain how to deal with a toxic work culture"
    Sure it does, you become a leader, and little by little the environment will change.
    Just like Aqua in a cage casting Purification on a swamp, it's slow, it sucks and it will leave you traumatized, but you'll make everything better eventually.

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