It’s safe to assume that at one point or another, each of us has had the misfortune of experiencing toxic leadership. Wikipeida defines toxic leadership as “is a person who has responsibility over a group of people or an organization, and who abuses the leader–follower relationship by leaving the group or organization in a worse-off condition than when s/he first found them.” In other words, they’re a bad boss. Some example behaviors exhibited by a toxic leader could be:
- Oppositional behavior.
- Plays corporate power politics.
- An over competitive attitude to other employees.
- Perfectionistic attitudes.
- Abuse of the disciplinary system (such as to remove a workplace rival).
- A condescending/glib attitude.
- They are shallow and lack self-confidence. Toxic leaders are not confident with themselves and become aggressive to cope.
- Poor self-control and/or restraint.
- Physical and/or psychological bullying.
- Procedural inflexibility.
- Discriminatory attitudes (sexism, etc.).
- Causes workplace division instead of harmony.
- Use “divide and rule” tactics on their employees.
At a minimum they can be difficult to work for and in some circumstances they can be downright miserable to the point of warranting legal action. In most cases It can lead to undesired attrition of good people while the bad apples remain in place and continue spoiling the bunch.
So Why is it so tricky to identify toxic leaders?
Today’s fast paced challenges call for super-performance. As a result, people tend to focus on the results and deliverables, and not pay enough attention to the method or the way things get done. Additionally, in the corporate world, the effects of a toxic leader are harder to detect, and symptoms might be attributed to other issues or go unnoticed. Employees should feel secure in their workplace and know that their employer’s human resource department is there to intervene in situations of toxic leadership. While the employee should feel comfortable in being able to blow the whistle on this type of behavior it isn’t enough. Companies should also make sure they’re investing in establishing processes that first identify, and then keep toxic leaders at bay.
Watching out for toxic leadership in your organization. (n.d.). World’s Largest Professional Network. Retrieved July 11, 2014, from https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140204184838-10810077-watching-out-for-toxic-leadership-in-your-organization
Toxic leader. (2014, June 7). Wikipedia. Retrieved July 11, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toxic_leader