Cynical Leadership: How to Work w/ Cynical Leaders | #PeopleSkills #Career

Cynical leadership, to some, is an oxymoron. How can you be cynical and be a leader? Well, leaders promote other people into leadership for different reasons. Some choose the staff member with the most seniority and promote them. Sometimes they pick someone to be the interim leader as a place holder (and overlook that person’s bad attitude since it is only for a little while.)

Regardless of the reason, promoting a cynic into leadership is a bad move. Yet, it does happen. So what will you do if you suddenly find yourself working for a cynical leader? Many people would leave and find a new job with a positive leader. Yet, if you are going to stay for awhile, here is how to survive until you find a a new job.

Cynical Leadership: Image is quote "Cynic can chill and dishearten with a single word. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Cynical Leadership: How to Work for a Cynical Leader. Image via

Image via

Cynical Leadership: How to Stay Inspired & Work w/ Cynical Leaders

First of all, know the difference between a cynic, a pessimist, and a skeptic. A cynic believes people do everything out of self-interest. In other words, they don’t believe that motives can be to help others. In essence, they trust nobody.

(A pessimist believes that bad things will happen. Yet they don’t think that people are motivated to make bad things happen. Lastly, a skeptic has doubts and is reluctant to believe right now. Still, they can believe once they have more evidence and think things through.)

5 Steps to Stay Inspired & Work w/ Cynical Leaders

  1. Inspire yourself and your teammates every day. A cynic will not spend time inspiring you. Here are 25 Talents You & Your Teammates Probably Have that you can honor and appreciate in each other.

  2. Focus on how you are growing from the work you are doing. What are you learning? What challenges are you solving? Keep notes about this so you can add these achievements to your resumé for your next job.

  3. Speak to the leader about tasks, challenges, etc… Don’t bring up the issues of recognition and appreciation for your efforts. Cynical leaders believe you are working for your own self-interest. Why would they give you appreciation?

  4. Brace yourself for their cynical jabs. Most likely, they will make cynical remarks about you and your teammates. “You only work for a paycheck so don’t expect anything more from me.” Or, “your humility makes you look fake.” Don’t take these jabs personally. They are stating their view of the world not of you. Remember what comedian George Carlin said: “Inside every cynical person is a disappointed idealist.” Let their cynicism roll off your back. This gives you resilience for the time you’re there!

  5. Cynical Leadership: Image is George Carlin quote "Inside every cynic is a disappointed idealist."

    Cynical Leadership: “Inside every cynic is a disappointed idealist.” ~ George Carlin

  6. For as long as you work there, accept that they are cynics. You will not change them so don’t try.

Look Ahead Beyond Current Cynical Leadership

Working amid negative cynical leadership does not create a happy successful career for you. Update your resumé with your accomplishments and make a list of everything you’ve learned in your current job. Lastly, when you are ready to leave, ask your cynical leader for a letter of recommendation on your reliability and work completed. You might think this is a strange request. Yet, it is valuable. If you’ve delivered the work required, a letter saying so is a plus to your portfolio. Cynical leadership is not inspirational yet it can recognize the basics like reliability and task completion.

Cautionary Reminder!

Admittedly, cynical leaders create mega trouble in an organization. While they are enjoying their own cynicism, they are destroying the initial trust people give them and they are not building long-term trust. Therefore, don’t become a cynic yourself while working there. Ask your friends and family to watch for signs that you are getting cynical. Above all, start looking for a new job!

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

Related Posts:
What If You’re a Cynic?
5 Questions to Create Teamwork w/ Pessimistic Teammates

©2021 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email for permission and guidelines. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

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