The toxic leadership blog

Understanding Toxic leadership

Toxic Leadership is one of the main causes of stress in the workplace, and leaders who exhibit certain behaviors and traits can contribute to a negative and hostile work environment. Despite the best intentions, managers can become toxic by creating patterns of behavior that management envisions for your company.

Essential question

How Can Leaders’ Knowledge of Toxicity Shift The Work Environment?

Toxic Leadership

Many times, toxic leaders meet short-term requirements, operate at the bottom of a continuum of obligations, and their supporters respond to their leader’s positioning to meet demands. A lack of consideration for others and the climate of the organization can have negative effects in both the short and long term. A toxic leader can engage in oppositional behavior that undermines subordinates, dislikes good work, labels them inadequate or flawed, or makes their team appear less than inadequate on the basis of frivolous assumptions.

Toxic leadership can affect employees “mental and physical health, as it can lead to layoffs, stagnant innovation, low productivity, interdepartmental conflicts, and high turnover rates. Toxic leadership occurs when a person in a leadership role abuses his authority and violates the relationship between leader and follower through unfair practices.

Toxic Leadership is one of the main causes of stress in the workplace, and leaders who exhibit certain behaviors and traits can contribute to a negative and hostile work environment. Despite the best intentions, managers can become toxic by creating patterns of behavior that management envisions for your company. When toxic leadership behavior is detected and identified, the organization can take appropriate action, and these lessons can become an integral part of the selection and promotion process for future leaders.

Toxic leaders often struggle to reward or acknowledge their employees for their hard work, or to gain recognition for the success of others. In many cases, dominant individuals act not as wise leaders, but for their subordinates and the group as a whole. When leaders reach positions of power, they create dysfunctional organizations that are abysmal for everyone.

Emergence

One of the most common reasons for the emergence of toxic leadership is the perceived threat to status, power, and control that breeds toxic behavior among vulnerable leaders. In the military, the chain of command is judged by toxic leaders who keep their subordinates under their thumb, and toxic leaders are especially good at endearing themselves to their superiors. Toxic leadership is now widespread because there is no way to deal with toxic leaders.

Research shows that three out of ten leaders are toxic. Although leaders have the power to initiate positive and helpful dynamics with people in the workplace, leaders in the past and present often choose to use this power to exert their own sense of control and selfish goals. The abuse of this power seeps into the psyche of its employees, causing incredible hardship, betrayal, and anger that can lead to mental illness, depression, anxiety, and trauma.

These behaviors and qualities make a leader toxic, but until we are able to define, distinguish, and construct toxic leaders, our cautious minds will wonder what behaviors or qualities toxic leaders have. Imagine behaviors that are characteristic of the opposite of toxic leaders — those who have a centered attitude and work on behalf of employees, this will assist you in hiring for more constructive behaviors.

Narcissism

If you find that your leader is a narcissist, chances are they have contributed to a toxic work environment. When a leader with a narcissistic disposition associates themselves with a position of power, the consequences can be harmful.

Narcissism, even if confined to employees, can be detected when it is seen as a pawn by people around leaders whose goals seem to have nothing to do with anything other than their own naked self-interest.

As you can see, leadership narcissism is a huge problem for an organization and its people. A controlling leader is a threat to an agile organization and a threat to employee well-being.

Narcissistic leaders lack emotional intelligence and are disinterested in the needs of their subordinates. They are more interested in personal success and profit than in the long-term growth of the organization and the development of its people.

Narcissistic leaders have an excessive need for admiration for others and lack empathy for others. Toxic leaders like to humiliate others in order to make colleagues and subordinates feel complacent. They put pressure on others and criticize them to compensate for the behavior they are subjected to.

What You Can Do?

Although there is no finite list of characteristics that can be described as toxic leadership, we can summarize the characteristics of toxic leaders in the aforementioned attributes. These characteristics should serve as a basic understanding and analysis of toxic leadership.

The inclusion of a bottom-up component in the assessment of leaders is a step in the right direction, but unless organizations actively engage in concerted efforts to eradicate toxic behavior, we should not underestimate the complexity of the problem.

Modern organizations, lacking the mechanisms to contain toxic leaders, are more prone to toxic leadership advantages. Toxic bosses can learn to deal with their condition with appropriate coaching and become effective mentors and leaders. The bottom line may be that some people are impossible to change, but if the issue is managed with the right interventions, leaders around them can turn things around and become more effective leaders.

Summary

Understanding Toxic Leadership

Challenge

How can leaders’ knowledge of toxic leadership behavior improve the work environment?

Solution

Increase upward communication channels and transparent communication. Many leaders are impossible to change, but if the issue is managed with the right interventions, leaders around them can turn things around and become more effective leaders.

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The Toxic Leadership podcast shares with listeners practical resources so that they too can begin to detoxify themselves, their teams, and their organizations. Lastly, we interview key leaders and experts as they share their insights regarding how to detoxify organizations — to improve retention, increase productivity, and bottom-line profitability.

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