Childish leadership rhymes with harassment. By Arthur Tourtet, lawyer. - THECHOWANIECS.COM

Childish leadership rhymes with harassment. By Arthur Tourtet, lawyer.

What is the definition of infantilizing leadership?

By researching case law, one can realize that infantilization of management is a term used to designate certain personnel management methods.

For example, infantilizing leadership may manifest itself in authoritarian or belittling remarks.

This is especially the case when a manager justifies his decisions with the following words: I’m right, I’m the boss “, or even : ” it is this way and this way only » [1].

Another illustration is to infantilize the fact of uttering the following words: you don’t get paid to think […] I am your superior, I have a DESS in management » [2].

Is still qualified as infantilizing management, an excessive control of employees.

Such is the case with a manager who systematically asks for explanations from employees who are absent for a few minutes to go to the toilet. [3].

It can also be qualified as infantilization of management, the fact of forcing employees to write down the smallest completed task in a notebook, a notebook whose manager does not hesitate to write reproaches in it with a red pen. [4] !

Still characterizes infantilizing management, the fact of passing judgment on an employee’s person (and not on his work) [5]or the fact that one does not communicate normally [6].

In all these examples mentioned above, we can note common details: the leader largely abuses his hierarchical power and his subordinates are deprived of all autonomy.

Infantilization of management can therefore be defined as any method of managing employees that has the effect of placing them in a position clearly inferior to that of their superiors.

It is a very interventionist way of managing staff, which is based on an unhealthy power relationship. Employees are judged incapable of thinking like adults, simply because they are not well enough placed in the company’s organizational chart.

Suffice it to say, respect is not required…

The employee subject to such management is considered an immature person who needs to be held by the hand even for the simplest steps.

Anything is good to make him understand that punishment can easily fall and that docility is not an option.

Naturally, the company has no interest in creating such a management, which has the drive to encourage employees to favor the whims of the head over the quality of the work, when these two objectives are incompatible.

Not to mention that infantilizing leadership very often rhymes with harassment.

Why is infantilizing leadership a problem?

It is obvious that infantilizing leadership is inappropriate from a relational point of view.

Who wants to work in a company where you are treated like a child?

Certainly none.

Having a manager who behaves like a school counselor means that you have to work every day with a lump in your stomach. Even with a steel mind, morale eventually declines.

An infantilizing management can seriously deteriorate working conditions and cause sick leave or even lead to departures from the company.

In a case decided by a judgment given by the Court of Appeal in Pau, judgment already cited above, the employees had been so infantilized that this had generated numerous departures and depressions, to the point that the employer had ended up launching an investigation. [7].

Not surprisingly, case law admits that questionable management practices can constitute moral harassment [8].

As a reminder, moral harassment is defined as being repeated actions, the purpose or effect of which is to degrade the employee’s working conditions, which may violate his rights and dignity, to change his health or to compromise his professional future [9].

In light of this definition, infantilizing leadership can constitute harassment [10].

However, the employer cannot, under its safety obligation, allow itself to approve personnel management methods that are harmful to the employees.

According to Article L4121-1 of the Labor Code, the employer must protect the physical and mental health of employees.

Article L1152-4 of the Labor Code also reminds that the employer must take all necessary measures to prevent actions that constitute harassment.

When the employer becomes aware of conditions that may resemble harassment, it will be in his interest to initiate an investigation. [11] and will have to do everything to stop the harassment.

If the employer does not act, or acts too late, to end the infantilization of management, he may be liable for damages for breach of his duty to prevent harassment.

The employer can still be ordered to compensate the moral damage directly caused by the harassment itself [12]. This compensation is cumulative with that awarded under the obligation to prevent harassment [13]

If the harassment has caused an accident at work or an occupational disease, the aggrieved employee can still request additional compensation from the Social Pole of the Court of Justice (formerly TASS), under the title of unforgivable fault. [14].

If the aggrieved employee was dismissed because he was harassed, he can also claim compensation for invalid dismissal, which must not be less than 6 months’ salary. [15].

The same applies if the employee obtains the judicial termination of his employment contract due to harassment [16].

This solution is identical if a termination of the employment contract is considered to be attributable to the employer due to harassment [17].

To summarize, moral harassment can be costly for the company because the victims do not lack the possibility of compensation.

When this same harassment is caused by inappropriate management, it can potentially affect many employees and therefore cost the employer even more.

If the infantilization of management was caused by a manager’s initiative, the company is strongly encouraged to get rid of it.

Unfortunately for the manager-harasser, if the latter is an employee, the dismissal for serious misconduct will have a good chance of being justified. [18].

In addition, the harasser may be personally ordered to pay compensation to the harassed person. [19].


Infantilizing management is a real disaster, because in such a situation everyone loses: employees are under extreme pressure, managers risk dismissal, and employers can find themselves paying compensation that can be significant.

In addition, it is not certain that this management is the best way to stimulate employee productivity.

Leave a Comment