The Toxic Triangle of Leadership

The Toxic Triangle of Leadership

March 30, 2019

Todays thoughts are jotted down before you. What are your thoughts on toxic leadership?

Toxic leadership is a combination of self-centred attitudes, motivations, and behaviours that have adverse effects on subordinates, the organisation, and mission performance. This leader lacks concern for others and the climate of the organisation, which leads to short- and long-term negative effects. The toxic leader operates with an inflated sense of self-worth and from acute self-interest.

Toxic leaders consistently use dysfunctional behaviours to deceive, intimidate, coerce, or unfairly punish others to get what they want for themselves. The negative leader completes short-term requirements by operating at the bottom of the continuum of commitment, where followers respond to the positional power of their leader to fulfil requests.

 

This may achieve results in the short term, but ignores the other leader competency categories of “leads and develops”. Prolonged use of negative leadership to influence subordinates undermines their will, initiative, potential and destroys morale.

Toxic leadership is bad, so why isn’t more attention devoted to the phenomenon? The fact that the identification and removal of toxic leaders are not a higher priority relates in part to the top-down nature of organisations. Performance evaluations and fitness reports are typically based on the observations of supervisors alone and exclude perceptions of subordinates. Since toxic leaders tend to be very responsive and brown-nosers to their superiors, they don’t look so bad from the top down.

So how his this a triangle? For a toxic leader to prosper, the environment needs to match or allow this leader to continue to develop his toxic ways. The same way weeds grow in an unkept garden.

Toxic leadership can be measured, as can organisational climate. Subordinates’ lack of experience and insight into the duties of their superiors may prevent them from fully evaluating them. They can, however, relate whether they are abused, humiliated, and belittled.

 

Toxic leaders flourish in toxic cultures.



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