Toxic leadership is when leaders (who should not be called leaders in the first place) infringe the leader-follower relationship, abusing their power as leaders to the detriment of the people they are leading; and when these type of leaders move on, they leave the people who were within their sphere of influence worse off than when they originally started leading them.A combination of both.
Besides the remarkable personifications of leaders that lack ethics and values, perhaps the most common example of toxic leadership is when the leader delivers excellent results using inappropriate behaviors that have a negative impact on her peers, on her subordinates, and / or on her organization.
When there are these type of leaders within the organization, it is usually a sign that the organization’s top leaders lack sufficient leading skills, that the organization is not well managed, and that the organization is not 100 percent healthy – these leaders come about inside an organization because it is managed and led in a deficient way.
If you have the skills to lead your organization and to manage your direct reports, it is very unlikely that toxic leadership will grow under your sphere of influence.
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If you would like to explore further this topic, you might want to take a look at this brief bibliography (in chronological order):
Stephen E. Ambrose, “Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest” (Simon & Schuster, New York, NY: 2001)
Barbara Kellerman, “Bad Leadership: What It Is, How It Happens, Why It Matters” (Harvard Business Scholl Press, Boston, MA: 2004)
Terry Price, “Understanding Ethical Failures in Leaders” (Cambridge University Press, New York, NY: 2005)
Jean Lipman-Blumen, “The Allure of Toxic Leaders: Why We Follow Destructive Bosses and Corrupt Politicians – and How We Can Survive Them” (Oxford University Press, New York, NY: 2006)
To keep on learning about other useful skills, go back to the previous page, or click here.
To learn more about the skills you need to manage the performance of your direct reports, go to our Management Skills page.
To learn more about the skills you need to lead the performance of your entire organization, go to our Leadership Skills page.
If you would like to explore further how to help your organization stay away from toxic leadership through our speaking or consulting services, please click on this link.