David Sable Asks, Does Working Remote Fix Toxic Workplaces?

As originally published by David Sable on LinkedIn. Subscribe to the newsletter!

The “toxic workplace” has taken primo, front and center billing in posts, discussion, and analysis, as a reason to stay remote whenever Return To Office is mentioned, even as a hybrid strategy. Unfortunately, too many people are saying that ZOOM, WFH, and WFABO (Work From Anywhere But Office) seem to solve the problem, so why return?

….Were it that simple!

As any Toxicologist can tell us, there are any number of poisons and each presents its virulence in different ways and each requires a different antidote and treatment. Some kill, some debilitate, some cause intense pain, and others merely annoy. And, there are those that don’t kill….but stay with us for as long as we live. Then, finally, there are poisons, like those used in treating various cancers that, when regulated, measured, and carefully applied can heal but, sadly, as we all know, sometimes the cumulative effect, as well-meaning as its application was, can be fatal.

Back to the workplace and take my metaphor along for the ride.

There are many toxic elements out there that make us want to stay away….that poison our experiences. Biased systems; glass ceilings; hate; jealousy; petty politics; self-serving behavior; poor management; greed; and of course, lack of leadership.

It seems to me that staying away from a physical space does little or nothing to solve any of the above, and to be honest, just coming back to an office solves nothing either.

Yet, I fervently believe there is one Universal Antidote that when applied to any of the issues I’ve mentioned or any I’ve missed is the beginning of a sure-fire cure….in fact, in my estimation and experience, it’s the only real cure.

That antidote, dear reader, is Leadership (with an intentional capital L). Because without real, caring, engaged, and passionate Leadership we swirl; we pay lip-service; we posture and ultimately solve nothing. All of the programs we put in place, all of the training we engage in, all of the incentives we dangle, all of the rhetoric we spew is worthless unless we have true Leadership to be out in front by example.

Over the next few weeks, I will share my views on Toxic behavior as well as my expectations on Leaders providing the antidote and what it means to lead by example.

As my readers know, I have created an acrostic for LEADERS….the Universal Antidote is to be found in some of the letters:

L – Learn

E – Empower 

A – Arm…think of this as a vaccine….Leaders arm us to be immune to poison and toxicity

D – Defend…even the best vaccine isn’t always 100% protective…Leaders are out in front protecting us…taking the brunt of it all 

E – Energize….when we get weak from constant exposure to venomous evil, it’s our Leaders who pump us up and cheer us on

R – Run 

S – Share  

And nothing is a worse killer than the presumed leader (small l) who is lethal to all by their toxic engagements, application of power, fear mongering, and bought position. This is more reason for true Leaders to emerge and to rid our business systems of toxins much like doctors would rid our physical selves of the same.

A final thought:

People don’t stay away from offices and their colleagues nor do they leave jobs and work, they run from toxic business culture.

Share the toxic issues that bother you the most and that you’d like to see explored.

What’s your view?

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