This is toxic leadership

welcome to hell

“I have never seen a General blaming his own soldiers. This is toxic leadership”. A formal navy seal once said.

I don’t know about army and generals, I do know corporate world and blaming the others, blaming the team, is a clear symptom of a toxic leadership. In such case, there are two solutions: either you get rid of them (if you are in the position to do so) or walk away from the company. Please, don’t conform or you will be the next bad leader.  Do not waste your time thinking they’ll change or maybe you can work around it, if the toxicity starts from the higher up of the company, the entire organization is compromised.

An executive gives the cultural footprint to a company. A toxic leader will poison the company and negatively affect its reputation. “A bad reputation is bad business”, Richard Branson docet. You will witness a high turnover of people which means a lot of money invested and then wasted when people leave. A bad reputation will follow you for a long time and the business will be destined to collapse.

A bad leader will pick or promote other bad leaders because they are insecure and inadequate so they need to create their own microenvironment of ineptitude to feel comfortable. In such micro-cosmos, there is no space for a kick-ass doer.

Identifying bad leaders is not difficult. During the interview you may get the first signs. You will notice they are all over the place, there will be inconsistencies in what they say and will discredit their teams while they will promote themselves.

In case you didn’t trust your gut and accepted the job offer, you will soon notice bad leaders love micromanaging because, in primis, they do not trust themselves. They will even interfere with the way you write an email. Since they are not able to make decisions, they will end up paralyzing the entire operations.

Bad leaders are usually stubborn and this is easy to explain with the inability to make decisions. The decision process is so painful for them, once they do, they’ll stick with their idea and won’t change their mind, ever.

After few months, you will experience what I call the silos-type organization made by a lack of communication. By isolating people and strictly controlling information, toxic leaders make their team less effective, increase their frustration level, encouraged mistrust and when mistrust increases, productive relationships are not likely to develop. Instead, you’ll experience uneasiness around your colleagues. (K. Y. Wilson-Starks, 2003).

“(…) Toxic leaders may have unresolved psychological issues (such as fear of the unknown, fear of failure, mistrust of people, feelings of inadequacy, lack of confidence, or extreme overconfidence) that they avoid by exercising toxic leadership.” (K. Y. Wilson-Starks, 2003).

This is a sign of an underlying psychological issue that needs medical attention.

Little by little, a toxic leader will damage the organization to a point of non return. “People like this have the same effect on an organization that termites have on a wooden house. On the outside, things look normal; but there is serious trouble just under the surface. When such a company faces unusual stresses—a depressed economy, for instance—more demands will be put on the workforce. Like a termite-infested house, the organization crumbles from within.” (K. Y. Wilson-Starks, 2003).


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