Sadly, toxic leaders are a stark reality in many organizations. The dark side of toxic leaders is rarely discussed in the workplace. Some studies show that three out of every ten leaders exhibit toxic traits. Toxic leaders have destructive interactions with their employees. They negatively impact individuals and also hurt the organization.
People who have worked for toxic leaders can tell you how traumatic the experience was. A toxic leadership style goes beyond just the individual work experience and will ultimately overwhelm the entire team. Toxicity spreads throughout the workplace, creating an unproductive and ineffective environment. It's important to identify toxic leaders and take action. Here are six characteristics of a toxic leader:
Have you ever worked for bosses who think they are always right? Do they always expect you to accept their way of thinking? Do they boast about their careers and accomplishments? Arrogant leaders will not extend a helping hand, nor will they take suggestions from a subordinate.
Have you ever shared an idea/opinion with your boss, only to be shut down? Dictatorial leaders do not want to hear any opinions other than their own. They each believe they are the "top dog," and their behavior reflects this attitude. To dictatorial leaders, their employees are "beneath" them, serving only to help the leaders climb the corporate ladder.
When a leader is irritable, unapproachable, and dismissive of others’ ideas, they are toxic to your work environment. Irritable leaders will avoid answering questions at all costs. When irritable leaders exist in the workplace, the organization's growth can become stunted due to a lack of new ideas and innovation.
Toxic leaders are often incompetent. They struggle to make common-sense decisions or complete the simplest of tasks. The lack of decision-making skills stems from their sense of self-importance. Criticizing others is what makes them feel important. As a result, incompetent leaders make their employees feel undervalued and unworthy.
Not surprisingly, toxic leaders are often discriminatory. Their favoritism appears in the form of sexism, racism, and many other discriminatory attitudes and behaviors.
Authoritative leaders often think they have the first right to many privileges in the workplace. They feel they should have access to everything (e.g., the front parking space should be reserved only for them). They often showcase and boast about themselves and their accomplishments.
By highlighting just these six characteristics of toxic leaders, we can see how detrimental they are to employees and the workplace. Toxic leaders disengage others. They keep workers from doing their best work and make them feel "less than". When toxic leaders bring their employees down, they also bring down the morale of the entire organization.
Do you recognize any of these characteristics? Are toxic leaders holding your organization back? If so, consider taking the necessary steps to improve your organization's leadership. Tackling toxic leadership will impact individuals personally and professionally and will certainly help lift your organization.
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