Good Leadership is knowing that pressure is not an excuse for bad behaviour, guest Dr Adam Harrison

Toxic environments are taxing. Specially so in the medical profession.

Toxicity in the healthcare workplace, unfortunately, occurs far too much. Looking back during my trainee days, one experienced it in the surgical department, then in family medicine. Today as one looks back the realization occurred that this toxicity is a consequence of doctors not being trained in leadership in medical school. Positions of responsibility are thrust upon doctors and it comes down to managing people with the inherent set of inter-personal skills that one has.

Such a scenario is quite common across workplaces. What most don’t get is that there’s a significant cost attached to this. Productivity wise it affects not just the individual facing the toxicity but the team around as all suddenly want to play safe, not make a mistake and generally the behaviour becomes one of walking on egg shells.

A 2013 HBS study on incivility and discourteousness in the workplace showed that 48% of people who felt incivility and discourteousness reduced their work effort. 78% were quoted as saying it impaired their loyalty to the organization. 25% took out the frustrations on customers. Add to this others who were not directly in the line of such toxicity. It’s not hard to imagine the cost of this to any organization. 

In the medical profession this gets further compounded as doctors rely on the references to get into the next role. As a result of this many don’t speak out. Ending up with presentism. Being there but not adding any value through individual contribution.

This brings into focus the importance of teaching self-leadership. Learning to lead yourself teaches you about the impact of your behaviour on others. Being able to get this into part of the professional learning is one way of helping people to be more self-aware and about leadership.

Adam can be contacted at

About the author, Ross

Behavioural leadership coach committed to bringing more soul into business and reducing a leader's stress in managing their people

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