The passive aggressive leadership style is one that is ineffective and that often leads an organization into a bully culture and toxicity. This is due to passive aggressiveness' avoidance of direct conflict.
Ultimately, passive aggressive people are seeking likability, which is their ultimate goal. Passive aggressive avoid confrontation at all costs despite the negative consequences of doing so. Passive aggressive leaders can only increase the hostility they feel by avoiding conflict. When passive aggressive leaders hold onto their hostility, they manifest it later in negative behaviors. The passive aggressive leader will retaliate when the employee least expects it. And there will be no connection between the original issue and the bad behavior. Leaders who are passive aggressive set the tone for a work environment where payback is expected and accepted.
Those who are passive aggressive are chameleons in an effort to avoid conflict and gain the goodwill of others. Their colors change depending on who is around. Accordingly, they always say what is necessary, regardless of integrity or truthfulness, in order to appease the person. In order to avoid conflict, leaders say what they believe the individual wants to hear at the time. Consequently, they send various messages to different people in an attempt to stay out of trouble and avoid confrontation. Constant mixed messages result in tension between workers and destroy trust, which is a vital component of a positive working environment.
They may appear nice at first glance, but as soon as you turn your back on them, they take action against their employees whom they perceive as challenging their authority or as “troublemakers.” They will hold onto their payback as long as it takes and are known for striking back when you least expect it. Passive aggressive leaders are guaranteed to retaliate. When confronted about their behavior, the cycle continues because the passive aggressive leader will say anything to avoid conflict. Though the worker is appeased in the moment, the problematic behavior persists since the passive aggressive leader tells them what they should do to end the conflict. The cycle continues.
A passive aggressive leader is very skilled at random acts of kindness and random acts of get backs. This yo-yo effect, of one day the boss is nice and the next they are not, causes a great deal of uncertainty for the workers causing them boundless distress. This type of leadership creates paranoia, tension, and anxiety in the workplace because workers never know what to expect. This happens with not only the leader, but trickles to other workers as well. This increases the likelihood that persistent workplace aggression occurs.
A passive aggressive leader is notorious for being difficult to work for, unwilling to accept intervention, and wreaking havoc at work. While passive aggressive leaders try to avoid conflict, their behavior and actions promote, support, and sustain workplace bullying. Nevertheless, passive aggressive leaders can learn the skills to transform the work environment and to improve their leadership skills with intensive intervention.
Call To Action:
Assess your leaders or your leadership style. How do you manage better communication if you are a passive aggressive leader? What can you do to manage passive aggressive leaders better?