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Toxic Leadership


Everything You Need to Know about the Toxic Leadership

Blog / Education Leaders Blog

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“Great leaders are not defined by the absence of weakness, but rather by the presence of clear strengths.” I believe, that leadership is the backbone of any business, leaders can make or break a business. But not everybody is lucky enough to have good leaders! Therefore, they get to deal with toxic leadership.

This kind of leadership doesn’t only harm employees but also causes unrepairable damage to the entire business. Toxic leadership is a silent killer in the business world. In this blog, you will learn everything you need to know about, this unhealthy leadership, to save your business from the damage and help it succeed with the flying colors. So, let’s quickly get started!

What is toxic leadership?

Toxic leadership refers to a destructive pattern of behavior exhibited by leaders that harms both individuals and the whole organization. These kinds of leaders, abuse their power, prioritize self-interest, and create a toxic work environment. We all know, “A good leader knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”

But, in toxic leadership, the leader puts himself first and makes everyone else’s life difficult. Isn’t that bad? Just imagine a boss who constantly yells, takes credit for your work, and never trusts you to do anything right. “That’s a toxic leader! They are like bullies with fancy titles who make work miserable.”

Well, if you are wondering, is it that bad? Yes, it is! Let me allow you to know the scary part of this problem. According to a survey, 56%, which means over half of the employees have dealt with a toxic leader at some point.

It is also seen that nearly 74% of employees with toxic bosses say it affected their health. And, we know that replacing the employees, who quit because of the toxic leadership in the company, will cost the firm up to twice the salary of the person who left. That’s scary!

Here are the traits of a toxic leader

  • They have very bullying behavior. These leaders are unpredictable! They might anytime yell at you, call you weird names, and even make fun of you. A study shows that nearly 49% of employees have experienced bullying from their leader.
  • These kinds of leaders are credit grabbers! they not only steal your ideas but also take credit for your work. A survey found that 48% of employees have dealt with bosses who take credit for their work.
  • Also, they are control freaks. They micromanage everything and never trust you to do your job well.
  • They practice favoritism! These leaders have a bad habit of playing favorites. This way they give better treatment and opportunities to some employees, leaving others feeling left out.
  • Toxic leaders are often dishonest and bend the rules. They are liars and cannot be trusted. This trait can gaslight in critical situations, which sometimes results in clashes among the employees.

Understand the main causes of toxic leadership

  • One of the prime causes of toxic leadership can be childhood experiences and upbringing. Eventually, how your leader has been raised since childhood and his early experiences shape his leadership style and behaviors. Childhood trauma or a dysfunctional family can influence toxic behavior in later stages of life.
  • Leadership is a skill that can be developed. when leaders lack training and guidance, they exhibit these toxic traits. Well, we all know that it is important to invest in leadership development, to be a good leader to others.
  • Now let’s talk about a very toxic trait! It is the organizational culture that rewards toxic behaviors. Sometimes, when the organization tolerates or even rewards a toxic leader, who is aggressive and manipulative, subconsciously, the culture sets the tone. So, promoting healthy norms is very important.
  • Additionally, some people not only have low work ethics but also a habit of claiming the ladder, in the wrong way. This way toxic leaders may prioritize getting ahead at all costs, even if it is, using unethical and manipulative tactics. This can also be due to the greed in the heart, of the toxic person.
  • Another cause of toxic leadership can be personal insecurities and lack of self-awareness. Firstly, insecure leaders try to control everything and also, try to create fear. Similarly, the lack of self-awareness can also, cause all the toxic actions but subconsciously! This way the person doesn’t realize what damage he causes.

So, now we all know that a healthy work environment starts with good leadership. But have you ever thought of what happens to your business when a leader becomes toxic?

What happens to your business with toxic leadership?

  • Imagine the environment where most people, are living intending to quit their workplace as often as their leaders, especially bosses, promote predatory behavior. Well, the high employee turnover threatens working relations.

Also, it slows the process, of documentation collection, is crucial for the organization, and is costly in terms of recruitment. The factor here is inefficiency! If workers are not motivated or are fearful of their employers, their production levels will become poor.

  • In a toxic environment, “it is almost impossible to hide toxic behavior tracts!” There are the customers, partners, and the general population to whom it awakens a feeling and allows noticing when leaders mistreat their assistants.

The image refers to customer trust and confidence of investors, and the impression of the brand name as it prevents its formation as it breaks.

  • As a result of toxic leadership, organizations suffer losses due to legal issues and lawsuits that could take a long time and a lot of financial expenses to sort out. There should also be the understanding that discrimination cases, harassment complaints, or wrong dismissal measures can be expensive.

It has ripple effects starting with certain costs of stocks going down, and contracts being missed. Also, eventually, there is no connection with the rest of the other partners.

How to deal with toxic leadership?

  • Clearly define your expectations so that everyone understands. When people know what is expected, they can work toward it effectively. And, always remember that achievers only thrive in a responsible organization.
  • Implement systems to measure and monitor the progress. This kind of visibility ensures alignment with expectations. When employees see progress, toxic behavior decreases.
  • Hire based on, not only skills but also values and cultural fit. Toxic leaders harm team dynamics. Therefore, hiring well prevents toxicity from entering the organization.
  • Address toxic behavior promptly. When you delay action, you moralize the toxicity. This will result in a more healthier, and productive workplace.

4 Simple strategies to save your business from toxicity

  • Implement a “No Brilliant Jerks” policy in your firm. Like Netflix, enforce a policy against disrespectful behavior including high-performing employees. Remember, trust and ethics matter more than brilliance.
  • Adopt a people-centric approach. Ask team members how they feel and truly listen to them. Recognize that everybody processes toxicity differently. Some may carry baggage from their previous toxic workplaces.
  • Invest in DEIB initiatives! Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) matters a lot. Support the programs and signify these principles in your business. DEIB isn’t just a checklist, it’s a part of your identity.
  • Set clear, transparent communication and goals. Address the known issues swiftly and transparently. Prioritize respect, inclusivity, and employee well-being. Empower line managers to handle conflicts effectively.

The end note of toxicity!

As we conclude, we realize that toxic leadership can have a very deep impact on your business. But, recognizing and addressing it is the first step toward creating a better work environment that can lead to positive change.

This harmful leadership can damage your business’s success but with an understanding of how you can deal with it, and the right action, you can make a difference!

Therefore, discouraging toxic leadership can transform your business and improve the overall morale, of the firm. So, if you have learned something valuable, share this blog and start implementing changes in your leadership approach to build a strong business.

Simran Khan

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