Over my 25 year recruitment and HR career, I have always been amazed at how quick an organisation was to promote the highest performer in a field into a leadership role. For example the top sales representative automatically gets promoted to the position of sales manager, even though they have almost zero communication skills and are universally despised within their team.

This is an example of the 'Peter Principle'. This principle states that people tend to rise to their 'level of incompetence' in their organisation. Employees are promoted based on their success in previous positions, until they reach a level at which they are no longer competent, as skills in one job do not necessarily translate to another.

Different skillset

Leadership is a key set of skills that people don't just 'automatically gain' when they suddenly have responsibility for a team. You don't automatically become excellent at plumbing because you are a great electrician… Because of this reason, many managers lack basic leadership skills which can very quickly decimate their teams. What are some of the signs of a toxic leader within the workspace?


Always negative

A poor leader never gives constructive feedback, and will just pick away at issues. They always take the opportunity to make comments that pull down, rather than build up, which means you won't get recognition for your hard work or constructive advice on how to improve your own skills.

Terrible communication skills

Unclear goals, mixed messages and poor response times all mean that your boss lacks quality communications skills. Over time this can really impact the business, as team members may end up working against each other to achieve competing objectives that have not been clearly defined.

Awesome micromanager

Always on your case and demanding to know your project status on an hourly / daily basis, these bosses remain constantly involved in every step. They don't allow you to make your own decisions without clearing it with them first, or allow any sense of independent thought in your role.

They're always right

Any thoughts you have are wrong, and they are the main 'font of knowledge' within the department. They believe they have all the answers, and play favourites with those who validate they're correct, and exclude people who challenge them and their ideas.


They lack integrity

You can forgive almost any failing in a manager, however this is the biggie. It is impossible to have genuine respect for a leader who has no integrity. Trust is the greatest asset a leader can command, however when their own decisions undermine this foundational quality, the rot sets in. The worst part is this lack of integrity then poisons others in the team, tacitly approving the ability to 'cut corners'.

If you have a boss displaying some or all of these 'qualities', maybe its time to look around for other career opportunities, working the leader you deserve…

Contact Tom O'Neil and the team at CV.CO.NZ for a free CV or LinkedIn assessment or to be your personal career coach. Visit www.cv.co.nz or www.CareerCoach.nz to find out more.