What is Toxic Leadership?

Toxic Leadership is also known as destructive leadership. In simple terms, lack of empathy and excessive use of power is known as toxic leadership. 

A leadership where the leader is helping his fellow team members to be creative and effective with their individual skills is considered fruitful and result oriented. 

Toxic leadership don’t last long and the employees find it difficult to cope in the toxic environment.

A toxic environment builds fear and inefficiency in employees.

Productivity might be more but creativity and efficiency would be zero.

Even employees will start working with disinterest in the organisation’s goal. 

In toxic leadership, the employees or peers are unwillingly follow the leader’s orders or commands.

In history, these are some examples of toxic leadership, Joseph Stalin-1953, Vladimir Lenin 1870-1924, Mao Zedong-1976. In 1990 Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling went from corporate heroes to Toxic Leaders after their resignation from CEO positions.

If you are born In Gen Z and you want to understand the recent examples of Toxic leadership then read this article https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/magazines/panache/ron-gutman-and-other-ceos-who-were-fired-for-their-toxic-leadership/breaking-news/slideshow/64185269.cms

All these leaders were selfish and greedy for their own financial growth and ignored the employee’s and organisations’ interests.

Toxic leadership cannot be noticed at first as it could be through non-verbal way or indirect ways of manipulation. The major sign of toxic leadership is that the leaders manipulate your emotions and responses.

Red Flags of a Toxic behaviour in the workplace

  • Dissatisfaction And Discouraged to Go to work: If your work is dissatisfying and you have lost enthusiasm to go to work each day that means the environment at work is turning toxic for your personal growth. This means your potential and skills are dying due to the barren environment. 
  • Workplace Bullying: Bullying about work or appearance is toxic behaviour. They might say it as a joke or fun and may apologise later. But regularly making fun of your work, appearance or opinions is bullying. You must not ignore these red flags.
  • Depression: You might feel stressed or anxious around certain people. The beginning of anxiety could lead to depression if ignored for a long time. If you feel anxious or feared to be around your manager or higher officials and they are not making you uncomfortable then sooner you would be in depression. So it is a big red flag in the workplace.
  • CounterProductive: Even with the best use of your skills, you are being asked to be more productive and your achievements are always ignored. This will lead you to exhaust yourself from achieving unrealistic goals.

How to identify a toxic leader?

We all assume that leadership is built on hierarchy however it is not that. Each person’s growth depends on the different leadership styles. The important fact here is that every leader has basic ethics like the growth of their peers and organisation. A leader must keep his self-interest aside. 

Let’s see how to identify toxic behaviours of leaders;

  • Unrealistic Expectations: For instance it’s Friday and your manager asks you to take a project to be completed by Saturday. If this kind of thing occurs repetitively then you must revert with a no and have a talk with your manager. This might cause you psychological distress.
  • Arrogance: Ignoring your suggestions and not acknowledging your effort are some kind of non-verbal ways of displaying arrogance. Acting completely unresponsive to your queries and need are also called arrogance and lead to a toxic environment.
  • Lying: Lying about your queries or requests and not justifying the ignorance or rejections also leads to a toxic work environment built by self-centred leaders. Putting untruthful allegations and making yourself doubt your potential are some effects of lying and toxic leadership.
  • Manipulative Discrimination: Raising conflicts between fellow employees by discriminating between employees and creating a rift between them through manipulation. This causes counterproductive nature between employees and psychological distress. Often this discrimination is easily noticed in different genders.
  • Highly Criticising: The unempathetic criticism without justified reason. Continuous negative feedback and bullying about incompetent work is also a sign of toxic leadership. 
  • Distrust and doubtful Nature: The toxic leaders have doubtful nature and they don’t trust anyone at the workplace or they would discriminate in putting their trust in selected people. This is one notable feature of a toxic leader.
  • Self Centered:  The toxic leaders are self-centred and will highlight only their achievements and contribution in the workplace. This will unmotivated and disinterested employees.

The presence of these above behaviours will make any person distressed and difficult to work and be productive. The prolonged exposure to these kinds of leadership might affect your mental health and behavioural change too.

How to survive toxic Leadership?

Often a change of employment might not always be a choice for everyone and some might have to work under this toxic culture.

So here are ways to survive toxic leadership:

  • Focus on your job role: Don’t overwork or underwork.  Create boundaries to your job role in case of disinterest and discouragement.
  • Ask Twice: Ask twice the instructions. You might sound dumb but it is better to clarify the things twice to avoid anger or unfavourable reactions later.
  • Record everything:  If you are working overtime then document your timings officially so it is not ignored. Documenting or recording abuse could also help you in future.
  • Avoid Reactions:  Responding is a skill and reacting is a weakness. Learn the difference between both. Look for the Skillz4life workshop where we train people on how to respond effectively.
  • Cooperate: Even if you feel discriminated acting as a rebellion would increase your difficulties more. So if you have to survive toxic leadership so it is better to cooperate in their tasks.

In Toxic leadership, it is important to focus on your mental health. Strong emotional intelligence and positive self-awareness can help you outlive the toxic environment.

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