Toxic leaders and how to identify them.

angry toxic Leader or boss yelling at the screen

If you have worked a job, gone to school, or been apart of any project. it’s reasonable to assume you have experienced a toxic leader. But sometimes its not clear a leader (or person as well) is toxic. In this post we will go over what it means to be toxic, and how to identify toxic leaders (And people in general).

First lets figure out and establish what it means to be toxic. The Oxford dictionary defines toxic as “Poisonous” or “Very bad, unpleasant, or harmful.” Unpleasant is a useful base to use, but there’s more to a Toxic leader by just being unpleasant. You can have a extremely Toxic leader that can actually be a person you can tolerate being around. So lets delve more into what a toxic leader is and how to identify him/her.

What is a toxic leader

At the end of this post ill give a list of “Ways” to identify a toxic leader. But i find articles like this aren’t necessarily helpful in truly learning about subjects, so first i will try my best to delve into toxic leadership and what it entails.

Imagine this: You’re having a meeting with your team, your boss/leader is going over the happening of the last month. He starts off the meeting with digging into all the teams mess ups and faults. Then he starts picking out individual people of the team and putting a spotlight on what they messed up on. After that he starts grandstanding about his own accomplishments. He then ends the meeting with what tasks he wants done for the next period.

This is a perfect example, in my opinion, of what a toxic leader would do. Someone who is self absorbed, publicly calls out the faults and failings of individuals in front of the team, then makes demands without going into detail. Toxic leaders will always think they are right, they will publicly degrade or humiliate team members(They do this to bring themselves up) they will attempt to micromanage everything. These are key traits you will see in a toxic leader(and person in general) in the workplace. And its best to avoid these people at all costs.

Toxic leaders care solely about themselves. He will make no effort to develop or grow the people under his charge. They will attempt to intimidate those under him, and bend over backwards for those over him.

One of the most frustrating things about having a toxic boss is that the people higher than him/her may even see them as a fantastic boss. This has happened to me personally. In my team a few years ago our boss was extremely toxic. He showed all the warning signs of toxicity. And yet the command saw him as one of the best bosses in the area. Why? Because the Marines, despite him, worked incredibly hard. We put our best foot forward and did our job well even though we hated our boss. This performance unfortunately lead the command to think our boss was doing everything write. (And they most likely went on to use his standard to judge other bosses)

A boss like this will almost certainly make morale in the workplace plummet. Nobody will feel good about the work they do. There wont be any vertical communication. Quality of the product, or whatever the team is working on will almost certainly decline. I harp on morale quite often in my posts because its the single most important thing to foster and grow in a team, you can learn more about it here

"My Job as a leader is to make sure everybody in the company has great opportunities, and that they feel they're having a meaningful impact"

As a quick overview lets list some warning signs or characteristics of a toxic leader.

  • Completely self focused
  • Only works to please higher ups
  • They are always right
  • Takes no input from the team
  • Micromanages the team
  • No trust in the team
  • Doesn’t encourage communication
  • Doesn’t raise morale

Hopefully you learned something from this post. And i thank you for reading. Feel free to check out my other posts.

If you’re also interested in other leadership posts i found this one quite interesting.

And, as always, have a wonderful day!

3 Replies to “Toxic leaders and how to identify them.”

    1. Thank you, i feel a lot of the consequences of toxic leadership are similar across the board personnel wise. Just some differences in the outcome of the job being performed.

      People, being the most important factor, are who suffer the most from a bad boss/leader. Its incredibly sad to see/hear about people whos happiness has been affected by this.

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