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Poor Leadership Impacts Employees Beyond 9 to 5—Here’s What You Can Do About It. 
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Author: Jenn Bowman

In the hustle and bustle of today’s workplaces, ‘soft skills’ (I.e., human-centered skills) often take a backseat to productivity metrics and hard, quantifiable results. But what happens when the human side of work is disregarded? What happens to employees in the long run when they work under poor leadership? The impact doesn’t stop at the office door. Let’s explore the often-overlooked consequences that follow employees home, delving into the emotional, physical, and personal aspects of their lives… 
 
Consider a typical day in the life of Jane… A diligent employee who spends her work hours navigating a labyrinth of mistreatment and disregard from her superiors. Her manager, Mark, lacks crucial soft skills like empathy, communication and active listening. When Jane proposes ideas, Mark dismisses them without consideration. When Jane expresses concern, Mark often passes blame onto someone or something else, and even points the finger back at Jane, implying that she is in the wrong for feeling the way she is feels. He frequently assigns tasks with unrealistic deadlines and offers little guidance, leaving Jane to fend for herself. 

During meetings, Mark’s communication style is brusque, bordering on abrasive. He rarely listens to his team’s input, undermining their sense of value and contribution. Jane often leaves these interactions feeling unheard and unappreciated. 

As she leaves the office each evening, a cloud of negativity follows her home. The emotional toll of Mark’s mistreatment begins to manifest in Jane’s life outside of work. Stress and anxiety become constant companions, making it difficult for her to unwind and enjoy her evenings. The thought of returning to work the next day fills her with dread, compounding her emotional distress. 

Jane’s personal relationships also start to fray. Her spouse notices the change in her demeanor, her tendency to withdraw from conversations, and the increasing frequency of sleepless nights due to anxiety. Their once-strong connection is strained as Jane’s overwhelming frustration causes her to be more reactive toward the people closest to her. 

In the face of such persistent mistreatment, Jane’s physical health begins to suffer. She experiences frequent headaches, sleep disturbances, weight gain and she finds her blood pressure steadily climbing. What started as a work issue has become a health crisis. 

Sadly, Jane’s story is not unique. It illustrates the profound consequences of working under poor leadership and how they extend far beyond the workplace. These challenges don’t simply vanish when the office door closes. Instead, they permeate every aspect of an employee’s life, impacting their emotional wellbeing, physical health, personal relationships, and even pushing them toward burnout. This article explores how basic soft skills can offer both employees and leadership valuable tools to navigate and prevent these adverse outcomes from happening in the first place. 
 
 

Emotional Wellbeing  
Employees who experience mistreatment or work under poor leadership often carry the emotional toll home. Emotional Intelligence (EI) emerges as a vital soft skill in the face of workplace mistreatment. For employees like Jane, cultivating EI can provide a lifeline amidst the stress and emotional turmoil inflicted by poor leadership. EI equips them with the tools to recognize and manage their own emotions, helping them stay resilient in the face of adversity. It enables them to empathize with their colleagues, fostering a supportive network within the workplace. On the other side of the spectrum, effective leadership leverages EI to build trust, nurture respect, and prevent mistreatment altogether. Leaders with high EI understand their employees’ feelings and perspectives, actively listening to their concerns. By demonstrating empathy and compassion, they create a workplace culture where employees feel valued and understood, minimizing the likelihood of mistreatment and its associated consequences 
 
Physical Health Prolonged stress and mistreatment at work can lead to physical health issues such as headaches, sleep disturbances, and even more severe conditions like hypertension. Employees who develop the stress management skills gain the ability to mitigate the adverse effects of workplace stress on their physical well-being. By employing techniques like mindfulness, time management, and self-care, they can find reprieve from the toll it takes on their health. But the responsibility doesn’t solely rest with employees. Leadership, too, must play an active role. Leaders who are well versed in the skills of empathy and compassion create a supportive work environment that values the physical health of their employees. They actively inquire about their team members’ well-being and take proactive measures to alleviate workplace stressors. By demonstrating genuine care and understanding, they contribute to a workplace where health and well-being are valued. 

Personal Relationships 
When employees bring workplace stress home, especially due to being treated poorly by management, it can strain personal relationships. Employees that are skilled in communication and conflict resolution can actively prevent this spillover. Effective communication enables employees to express their feelings and concerns to their loved ones, allowing an opportunity for support and minimizing misunderstandings. Conflict resolution skills empower employees to address workplace conflicts before they escalate, reducing the likelihood of carrying unresolved issues home in the first place. On the leadership side, utilizing these soft skills can be equally transformative. By encouraging open lines of communication and providing conflict resolution mechanisms, the leadership team can create an environment where employees feel heard and conflicts are safe to address. This safeguards not only their team’s well-being, but also the harmony of their personal lives. 
 
Burnout 
Ultimately, persistent mistreatment and poor leadership contribute significantly to burnout. Employees dealing with this stressful environment can employ soft skills like time management and boundary setting to help manage the challenges. Effective time management allows employees to prioritize tasks and allocate their energy efficiently, reducing the likelihood of burnout. Boundary setting helps individuals establish clear limits, preventing work-related stress from infiltrating their personal lives. On the leadership side, soft skills like showing encouragement and appreciation are crucial. By regularly recognizing and appreciating their employees’ efforts, leaders convey respect and care, which not only prevents burnout but also motivates employees to perform at their best. Encouraging a work culture that values time management and personal boundaries, while offering appreciation and encouragement, is a proactive approach to preserving employee well-being. 

The adverse effects of poor leadership on the lives of employees have become more pronounced and widely recognized, highlighting the urgent need for a paradigm shift towards nurturing essential soft skills. These often-underestimated capabilities can not only mitigate the detrimental impact of poor leadership but can also prevent it altogether. Whether it’s bolstering emotional wellbeing, safeguarding physical health, nurturing personal relationships, or preventing burnout, soft skills are the tools that can help us usher in an era where employees are supported in thriving at work, and in all other aspects of their lives.

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