Former Abusive Leaders: Why Do Employees Speak Well of Them? | #Leadership

Why do employees speak well of their former abusive leaders? When those leaders or the employees no longer work for the same company, you would think the employees would not defend their former abusive leaders. Well many do not. Yet I have heard several who do and it is important to ask why.

Former Abusive Leaders: Image is a sketched negative face.

Former Abusive Leaders: Why Do Employees Speak Well of Them? Image by Taymaz Valley via Flickr Creative Commons License.

Image by Taymaz Valley via Flickr Creative Commons License.

Why Do People Defend Their Former Abusive Leaders?

I ask this question because defending your former leaders and managers who were abusive to you, can …

  • Make you tolerant of abuse from your current or future leaders.

  • Subconsciously become part of your leadership style as you justify the reasons why.

  • Slow the development of your own self-respect and how people treat you.

  • Communicate to others that abuse is OK even if you say it isn’t

  • Further abusive leadership with the “but those leaders got results” mindset.

Perhaps Employees Defend These Leaders Because …

  1. The memory is too painful. The need to deny that anyone had treated them that badly takes over.

  2. They hope those they lead will be understanding if they are poor leaders.

  3. They lack confidence and conviction that leaders must treat others well.

  4. Time and distance give them a rosier view than the past really was.

If you had former abusive leaders in your career, give serious thought to how their verbal abuse affected you and your colleagues. Imagine how much more you could all have achieved with positive leaders. Instead of saying “but they taught me a lot”, write down what you could have learned if they had inspired you! Then, help create that culture in your current and future jobs.

Former Abusive Leaders: Image is quote Don't treat people how they treat you. Teach people how to treat you.

Don’t treat people how they treat you. Teach people how to treat you. ~ unknown


Abusive leaders are not great leaders. In fact, they are not even leaders. Truly great leaders do not abuse others and don’t even consider that leadership. They inspire and influence without abuse. So, don’t speak well of your former abusive leaders. Live and work with the healthy belief that leaders must treat you well.

What are some of the truly damaging effects of verbally abusive leaders?

How do great leaders affect you?

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

Related Posts:
Essential Truth: Verbally Abusive Leaders Lose Everything
Leaders, How to Stop Team Bullies

©2020 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.

Get more inspiration and actionable tips for high engagement results!


Buy Kate Nasser’s new book Leading Morale (


2 Responses to “Former Abusive Leaders: Why Do Employees Speak Well of Them? | #Leadership”

  1. The 6th graders in the other class spoke well of and defended their teacher. [Slightly notorious]

    Postal employees defended the supervisor of their craft activity.

    When he was ridiculed by some postal big shots, I too defended him. Why? Because I didn’t like their attitude.

    But on aa practical note, bad mouthing a former bad boss will cause current management to view you and your commitment in a negative light.

    Sincerest regards,


KateNasser on Facebook KateNasser Blog KateNasser on Twitter KateNasser on LinkedIn KateNasser on Pinterest