Last week, I posted Authoritarian Leadership vs. Democratic Leadership ~ The Officer Corps Explained, discussing the contrasts between being an autocratic leader and a participative leader. At the very end of that post, I offered some additional resources that discuss toxic leadership and its effect on individual and team productivity and morale. As many of you know, from day-to-day, a blogger can check to see who’s visiting their blog, where those people found the blog, what posts they are reading, among other interesting statistics. One of the statistics is the number of page clicks people have made to internal links that appear within particular posts. I must admit to you that I am addicted to blogging, and I am fascinated who and how many visit my blog. I keep an eye on my statistics page
too much often. I noticed that nobody has clicked on any of the articles related to toxic leadership; articles that offer a wide-ranging view of traits that can be destructive to people and organizations. I find these articles to be very good references to the topic of toxic leadership, and I encourage you to read each of them. Not only are they informative, but they are also enlightening. Again, at the end of this post, under Additional Resources, I offer those four article links for you.
Beyond ethical leadership, there must be effective leadership that inspires individuals and teams to perform at a high level; mentor and servant-oriented leadership. As important as it is for a leader to learn and apply themselves to the principles of leadership, core values and the qualities that lead to success, it is also important for leaders to know how to avoid being a toxic leader; an ego-driven leader who thinks they can use fear and intimidation to get results. As I said in last week’s post, toxic leaders damage the morale and effectiveness (esprit de corps) of their people and organization. Employing the wrong approach to followers can be quite damaging.
What is a Toxic Leader?
Toxic leaders have very poor interpersonal skills, and all of their actions are dictated by self-interest. This causes them to be very ineffective, and they are hard to like. Toxic leaders are also self-promoting. They will promote themselves over the interests of the organization, mission, profession, and worst of all, their subordinates. The way they treat others is appalling. They act aggressive toward them, are critical of them, blame them, and will even try to intimidate them. They dole out information, resources and tasks to their subordinates in a restrictive manner in order to maintain tight control. Toxic leaders avoid their followers, if possible. At every opportunity, they will denigrate them, and they will always act as if the subordinate is disposable; nothing more than a tool for them to use. Ultimately, the toxic leader is self-destructive.
Personal Characteristics of a Toxic Leader –
– Incompetence – Egotism
– Malfunctioning – Arrogance
– Maladjusted – Selfish values
– Sense of inadequacy – Avarice and greed
– Malcontent – Lack of integrity
– Irresponsible – Deception
– Amoral – Malevolent
– Cowardice – Malicious
– Insatiable ambition – Malfeasance
– Rigid – Callous
– Self-serving – Unethical
– Corrupt – Evil
Additionally, Toxic Leaders:
– Do not allow a free and frank flow of open thinking and ideas
– Destroy trust
– Promote themselves at the expense of their subordinates
– Criticize subordinates without considering long-term ramifications
– Cripple the confidence of subordinates; thus derailing other potential leaders
– Cause retention to suffer among the brightest and most talented personnel
– Negatively impede efficiency and effectiveness throughout the workplace[i]
If you have ever been exposed to a leader with one or more of these negative, demoralizing leadership traits, you have first-hand knowledge of what a toxic leader is and how they can affect an organization. A good and skilled leader will avoid being seen possessing any of these characteristics, and will employ the appropriate leadership style according to the individual, team, task, and goal/objective. To know how to deal with people is an acquired skill; one that should have been developed from a very young age in grade school.
On his blog, Ovation Leadership, Steve Riege discusses the Integrity of Character, where values, experience, knowledge and wisdom complete the dimensions of the individual. He writes, “The combination of morality, values and ethics create a strength [of] your Character consistent of being true to values, and doing the right thing because it is the right thing. This inner strength enables Teams and organizations to trust their leader, whose Character embodies this knowledge, comfort, and trust of their own personal core.” In his short e-pamphlet, “The Rare Leader,“ Steve calls this Integrity of Character. Integrity of Character embodies the Golden Rule, because it represents every gift of morality, value, and ethics we would hope to receive from others. Integrity of Character is the true measure of how you bring the core of your life to the surface for you, and those who choose to follow you.[ii]
Integrity of character is the foundation of a great leader. To use a metaphor, it is what you build your very being up from, if you so choose. The building blocks of leadership are built upon the value of integrity and trust. Each block represents the values, virtues and principles that will house your team. It will be built with duty, honor, courage, commitment, selfless service, respect, justice, judgment, dependability, initiative, decisiveness, tact, enthusiasm, bearing, unselfishness, knowledge, loyalty, and endurance. It will be a strong structure if you build with these traits properly and effectively. You need to make sure the leadership “structure” your team works in is built with these things. Within that strong structure, under the strong roof of your leadership, your team will be safe and secure.
Leadership is a process by which a person influences others to accomplish an objective and directs the organization in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent.[iii] A leader’s ability to be situationally aware of the environment they are encountering is obviously developed over time, experience, trial and error. But, once a leader can master the ‘push button’ ability to adapt their style to the circumstances, that leader’s successes will increase and team morale will improve. And, they will never become a toxic leader.
Copyright © Dale R. Wilson
Additional Resources –
“Toxic Leaders” – By Colonel George E. Reed, U.S Army – Military Review – July – August 2004 (pages 67 thru 71) – http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/milreview/reed.pdf – Accessed 1 February 2012 – Maxwell Air Force Base (Montgomery, Alabama), United States Air Force Air War College, Gateway to the Internet Home Page – http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/
“Toxic Leadership in the U.S. Army” – By Colonel Denise F. Williams, U.S. Army – Thesis – U.S. Army War College – Report Date 18 Mar 2005 – http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA431785 – Accessed 1 February 2012 – The Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC) – http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/
“Toxic Leadership: Part Deux” – By Colonel George E. Reed, Ph.D., U.S. Army, Retired and Lieutenant Colonel Richard A. Olsen, D.Min., U.S. Army, Retired – Military Review – November – December 2010 (pages 58 thru 64) – http://usacac.army.mil/CAC2/MilitaryReview/Archives/English/MilitaryReview_20101231_art011.pdf – Accessed 1 February 2012 – http://usacac.army.mil/ – United States Army Combined Arms Center
“Antecedents and Consequences of Toxic Leadership in the U.S. Army: A Two Year Review and Recommended Solutions” – By John P. Steele – Technical Report (2011-3) – Center for Army Leadership – Report Date 30 June 2011 – http://info.publicintelligence.net/USArmy-ToxicLeaders.pdf – Accessed 8 February 2012 – Public Intelligence – http://publicintelligence.net/
[i] “Toxic Leadership” – John Evans CSP – Accessed 08 February 2012 – http://businesssurvivalstrategist.com/ToxicLeadership.aspx
[ii] “Integrity of Character” | Ovation Leadership | Steve Riege | Accessed 08 February 2012 – http://ovationleadership.com/integrity-of-character/
[iii] “Toxic Boss” – indaba – network toolbox – Accessed 08 February 2012 – http://indabanetwork.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/toxic_boss.pdf (a link from the source page http://publicintelligence.net/u-s-army-has-a-problem-with-toxic-leadership/) – In “Organizations and Networks” – http://indaba-network.net/resources/in-organizations-and-networks/ – indaba – network – http://indaba-network.net/
This entry was posted on February 9, 2012 at 7:02 am and is filed under Leadership, Toxic Leadership with tags authoritarian, autocratic, character, communication, democratic, ethics, Golden Rule, integrity, lead, leadership, management, manager, military, military leadership, morale, participative, participatory, people management, professionalism, relationships, respect, tact, team, toxic leadership, values. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.