Toxic Workplaces – Part 2 – Toxic is anything that is not right for you!

Reading time: 4 minutes
Stress & Toxic Workplaces

I will go outright to and make this point: “toxic is anything that is not right for you”


As you may know by now, I am a #self #leadership geek concentrating on taking the helms of your professional career in your hands. What is more important is that this applies even more to entrepreneurs or employees that are shifting towards entrepreneurial endeavors. 

Our Philosophy at CareerShift is that every person should assume their responsibility for their career in order to be fit for the world of tomorrow. And, what we train leaders in the corporate environments through HUMANISTIC si in the same line.


Now, why is that particularly important?

The pandemic years challenged the way we work. They meant a big shift in mindset and behavior for leaders. They needed to work their tendency to control, to create new routines and redesign the digital workspace and mold new productive patterns in their team dynamics. This is more than implementing a digital tool. It is about a new way of thinking, managing personal space and energy, communicating digitally including having a digital persona & footprint. 

For everybody else, it meant tuning into their #self #leadership. The best way to understand this transition is to look at it as an entrepreneurial one. And every person who is or tried to be an entrepreneur would intimately recognize this. What is at stake in such a transformation is way beyond a business model and a lean canvas for clarity. It is a deep personal journey that requires continuous self development as the business itself grows. More specifically, it means that you will not have a system to support you (like the help desk in IT, the car fleet management, the financial department to manage your cash flows, the HR to set a fixed/flex scheduling for work. It may sound simple but one of the first struggles that each starting entrepreneur faces is the realization that they may be the worst boss they have ever had. They would put such a pressure on their deliverable and their quality, they will work much longer hours than before and their minds will still be working at nights because they have the full responsibility for the outcome of their work. Correlatively they will need to find a balance between all that and set some personal definitions on what’s good enough, how much effort is enough for the result they want, at what cost do they feel it’s worth it to reach a certain objective or level. 


Yes this comes with the freedom of choice, but not everybody is trained to bare the burden of that freedom. First, freedom doesn’t exist without limitation. It wouldn’t make any sense as a term. You need reference points to be free from something or to do something. Second, this burden comes with a huge responsibility. You need to redesign personal reference points in all places where unconsciously or consciously were already there. A very simple example of this is your self-talk while you are putting some limits on a project, which may sound like this: “after all this is not my company and this is my time…. weekend time”. This is not anymore true while it is your company, or when you are much more responsible for the outcome of a certain project. You need to make a conscious choice. 


Making this analogy, let’s go back to everyone’s situations!

This period was like an entrepreneurial shift for every employee. Unknowingly, the conversation shifted from task to outcomes, the program was not set anymore and after the fear for the the financial crisis in the first pandemic wave most of businesses understood that “sky is the limit” for their growth. So, the pedal was pushed to the limit but we weren’t trained to cope with it. And this is taking its toll on wellbeing, mental health and it is bringing about all this reshuffle around the generally accepted way of working.


This is coming with a lot of blaming and finger pointing: these are bad leaders, these work environments are toxic, etc. 

This is exactly the problem and the point I am trying to make!


If this general fatigue was not there and we would find in us the power to be more forgiving and kind, we would realize that everybody is coping with the situation the best they can. No, most leaders are not toxic! Not on purpose! Most of them are staying up all night trying to deal with this pressure as we all are. But in addition to that they are carrying the responsibility burden of their team, P&L, paying salaries, coping with inflation, etc. And, as they are doing all that in this VUCA business setting they are learning how to be vulnerable, how to center themselves, how to design a wellbeing setting for their families and teams. 


If you are not seeing the point I am making then I will leave you with a question: If over 50% of the employees everywhere have an intention to resign that means that the overall leadership landscape went bad abruptly over the pandemic years? No. This is not it!

Some are lagging behind in their efforts and learning. Some are not yet accepting the new reality and the needs that come with it. Some are accepting it but don’t know how exactly to integrate it. This is particularly a blind spot that we are seeing in out #hybrid #leadership training in HUMANISTIC.


The better and more sustainable thing that is there for everybody is to assume this professional responsibility. In order to decide if a work environment is toxic for you, you need to know who you are. As some food is healthy for some people and the same food is toxic for others this can be extended to the workplaces arena also. Yes, there might be toxic work environments based on the general understanding of a country/region’s culture. For these cases there are platforms, support groups, press and a lot of other ways to make justice. But if you cannot authentically respond to the “who you are and what do you actually want?” questions, then there is no response in blaming. You may leave and find another workplace to blame. And this will happen until you will decide to look inside and do the work. And if you do this work in a timely manner you will surf this change wave and you will be at the forefront of the new emerging workplace cultures. We can also help with that. 


Mihai ZANT

Mihai ZANT

Mihai ZANT is an Executive Coach, Trainer and Managing Partner at, and Having over 10 years of experience in leading teams and communities he concentrated his work in building Learning Organisations.

Don’t forget to share this article!

Related articles: