How to Thrive Under a Critical Leader

We have all been there. We report to a person who is a workplace bully. No matter how hard you try, at the end of the day, you feel like a failure. Meetings are depressing, work is overwhelming and, despite your best effort, you just can’t seem to please that one person who decides about your paycheque or career. How can you thrive in such a situation despite all that is going on around you?

1. Surround yourself with positive people

Every workplace has good people and bad apples. You need multiple positive people to balance off one bad apple. Find those who will become your cheerleaders will help fuel your fire and keep you excited. You might as well survive that one negative Nelly (or Neil).

2. Keep in mind that some people come into your life as a blessing and some as a lesson

What can you learn from your current situation? Do you need to toughen up? Do you need more patience? Do you need to stand up for yourself? Or do you need to make faster decisions? How can this person help you move forward and upward with your life? What should be your next step?

3. Propose a better plan

There is always a way. You can sit down with your leader or someone else to discuss what’s going on, try to resolve the issue and dissolve the conflict. Come up with a plan of action that changes the status quo. Don’t let things get off the rails, take action and change the circumstances.

4. Be the change

How can you set a different example? Can you be a light in the darkness? Can you bring smile and positivity into your current environment? Can you set an example of how things can be done differently? Your behaviour might inspire others to act differently.

5. Walk away

There are places and situations when you need to have enough courage and self-respect to just walk away. If you have done your best, acted differently, talked, proposed a better plan, and nothing changed, it might be time to move on. None of us can change the other person. If they choose to remain the same and the company is fine with it, your best bet might be to say “enough” to an emotional manipulator and bring your skills where they will be appreciated. It’s a mission impossible to thrive in a toxic environment. Your value is far too great to be wasted.

If you suffered under a critical leader, learn from it and never do this to others under your lead. I encourage you to be a leader who inspires, grows and supports others, helping them to reach their full potential. Choose to blossom into a beautiful rose in spite of those painful thorns.



Blogger: Silvia Pencak, founder & CEO of Powerful Life Consulting, a boutique consulting company located in Ontario, Canada.

Silvia is a consultant, speaker and an award-winning blogger. Her specialty is in change leadership and strategic team development. With hands-on experience on over 500 mission critical initiatives across four continents, Silvia helps business leaders establish proven, actionable strategies to keep essential projects on time, on budget, and on the mark with client expectations. Connect with Silvia at or on Twitter (@SilviaPencak).

What is Your Top Ten?

David Letterman had a top ten. I have a top ten. Do you?

To me, the top ten is the list of activities you need to incorporate into your life on a regular basis that lead to a feeling of greater fulfillment and overall well being.

My Top Ten includes:

  1. Have a massage or spa treatment at least once a month.
  2. Go on a date night with my hubby every two weeks.
  3. Plan a few moments every day to do something enjoyable by myself. This could be reading or going to a Starbucks and indulging in a latte while people watching.
  4. Exercise every day for at least 45 minutes.
  5. Eat nutritious food, but have one night a week (usually Saturday nights!) that is my cheat night.
  6.  Spend time with others I love.
  7.  Do something kind for someone else every day. That could be sending a note to someone or taking the time to hold the door for a stranger while smiling.
  8. Plan a fun vacation several times a year.
  9.  Meditate 5 times a week or more.
  10.  Listen to uplifting music. I have quite an eclectic taste in music. I am a country girl by birth so I like country music. I also like AC/DC and my kids keep me up-to-date on all the latest pop music that I must admit, I really like too!

Think about what activities make you feel alive. Many of them may even feel like a luxury. But when you stop to think about it, you really should be pampering yourself. We invest in our education, our homes, but we tend to overlook investing in our most valuable asset. Take care of your well-being and happiness. Trust me, the payoff will be worth it! Now, go ahead, and create your own Top 10!

Blogger: Carey-Ann Oestreicher, Chief Engagement Officer, Potential Unlimited

Recipient of a Top 40 Under Forty Business Achievement award, Carey-Ann Oestreicher, owner of the career development firm for women, Potential Unlimited (, holds an MBA and has worked in a variety of senior positions including vice-president level. Her focus is her family and helping women in business find true peace and happiness in their lives while achieving new heights in their careers.

Carey-Ann has been featured in a variety of media because of the success she has experienced with her holistic approach to developing women leaders and entrepreneurs. Her appearances include: CTV’s Canada AM, TSN, CBC News, Global Television, City TV News, The Globe and Mail, Canadian Business magazine, The Toronto Star and The Canadian Press.