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'Brain-fried' leaders can make employees feel threatened, says survey

The behaviour of leaders at work left almost half of the employees who responded to a survey feeling 'actively threatened'.

In a survey of 1,277 employees by the leadership development consultancy Head, Heart and Brain, 47 per cent of respondents said their leaders made them feel threatened.

The problem was most acute in the civil service, with almost three-quarters of employees saying they felt threatened. The authors of the report suggested that this might be because of the many changes taking place in the civil service since the downturn began.

Jan Hills, partner at Head, Heart and Brain, said that bosses were under immense pressure to make efficiency savings while also improving performance. 'Pressure breeds threatening behaviour if it isn't channelled in the right way. If it is managed in the wrong way, stress can gradually erode the quality of their leadership until it deteriorates to a disastrously low level. It creates a vicious downward cycle where productivity begins to suffer as the workforce beings to feel increasingly threatened by brain-fried leaders.'

After the civil service, scientists (63 per cent), doctors (60 per cent) and retailers (58 per cent) were the next most likely to feel threatened by their leaders.

The consultancy said that studies had shown that employees who feel threatened process information less effectively and can't perform at their best. An atmosphere of fear, it said, made workers 'less productive'.

Acas works with employers to develop practical solutions for dealing with stress and managing its effects on productivity and morale. As well as publishing the Advisory booklet - Stress at work, Acas runs training sessions to help people recognise, manage and minimise Stress in your workplace. It also offers courses in Skills for supervisors aimed at helping managers improve their working relationships with their colleagues.

Visit the Acas Training and Business Solutions page for more information.

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