Have you ever worked for a toxic leader? Fortunately for me, I have never been in that situation. I’ve worked for bad or ineffective leaders, but not a toxic one. Toxic leaders disrespect their employees, are abusive, unethical and typically don’t take responsibility when something goes wrong (but will take the credit when things go right).
The first sign of a toxic leader is listening to how their people talk about them. Ironically, this is the same indicator I use to determine if someone is a good leader, but their people typically talk glowingly about them. Conversely, people who work for toxic leaders absolutely hate working for them. This is indicated not just by their words, but also by their attitude toward their job, their body language and interactions with their peers. The result is lower productivity, higher absenteeism, and a stressful work environment to name a few.
I believe toxicity is on the rise as organizations continue to promote people who don’t have good people management skills. They may have great functional expertise but didn’t make the transition from functional to management. Additionally, the workforce has changed, whereas before toxic managers could exist because they got the job done, now workforce expectations have changed and people won’t tolerate being mistreated and leave.
Toxic leaders are not good for your business. Their behavior not only causes their direct reports to leave, but also impacts their peers, who don’t want to work with them. They can also impact the bottom line if they have contact with customers or vendors. Although it might be tempting to keep them because they get the job done, just think how much more could be accomplished if they were an effective leader.
Organizations need to identify and rectify toxic leaders as they exist in most organizations. We believe they can exist in organizations with as little as 100 employees.
Have you ever encountered a toxic leader in your career. Please discuss in the comments, preferably without mentioning any company names.
Learn more about how our LeadershipRMS solution helps identify toxic and unbalanced leadership situations at LeadershipRMS.com