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Leaders have a profound impact on the work lives of the employees they supervise. This chapter explores the experiences of employees whose leaders exhibit toxic behaviors and the impact of this toxicity on employee engagement. The authors report the findings of a qualitative study involving in-depth interviews with 13 participants. First, the authors describe the participants’ experiences before and after experiencing toxicity. Next, the authors outline three critical toxic leadership styles: the nightmare (leaders who have unbalanced emotional control and who are overly fond of power), the pretender (leaders whose authenticity and integrity seem low, who play different characters depending on the circumstances), and the runaround (leaders who change directions too often or give unclear instructions). Finally, the authors address organizational, leadership, and individual strategies to identify and remove toxic leaders from the workplace.



Igbokwe, N., Smith, S., Hart, C., Hergert, E., Reter, E., Wildermuth, M., Bouda, R., Phillips, T. and Wildermuth, C. (2021), "Monsters, Inc.: Toxic Leadership and Engagement", Morris, L.R. and Edmonds, W.M. (Ed.) When Leadership Fails: Individual, Group and Organizational Lessons from the Worst Workplace Experiences, Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 3-15.



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