The Deadly Habits of Highly Toxic Leaders

What if you’re a toxic leader and don’t know it?

Lack of self-awareness is the deadly trait of a toxic leader. You might try to improve your leadership but it gets worse. Why? You don’t see your negative impact on others.

Toxic leaders usually believe they’re good leaders.

you become irrelevant when you don't learn and grow

The deadly habits of highly toxic leaders:

#1. Toxic leaders think others need to grow, but they don’t.

There is no hope for leaders who don’t see their need to learn and grow.

Toxic leaders:

  • Carry the curse of knowledge that allows superiority. My wife and I watch cooking shows on TV. The contestant who already knows-it-all inevitably crashes and burns.
  • Don’t listen to ignorant novices.
  • Don’t read. It takes too much time.
  • Reject coaching and mentoring. Sadly, in some organizations having a coach is punishment.

You become irrelevant when you don’t learn and grow.

#2. Toxic leaders expect blood from turnips.

Turnips are great if you need vegetables, but not if you need blood.

Toxic leaders want turnips to move into leadership, but turnips don’t aspire to lead, for example.

Hope is cruel. Your team wants you to stop tolerating turnips, but you hope they’ll step up.

You have aspiration for those who have none for themselves. (Some people are thriving at their job and they don’t want to move up.)

Tips for toxic turnip lovers:

  1. Leverage strengths. Know the top five strengths of everyone on the team.
  2. Fuel energy. Watch for bright eyes. What are people doing when their eyes light up?
  3. Move slowly. Don’t promote turnips in the hope they will start giving blood. Toxic leaders expect too much, too quickly, from reluctant turnips. They may rise someday, but not now.

What are some habits of highly toxic leaders?

How might leaders become less toxic?

Added resources:

8 Traits of Toxic Leadership to Avoid (Psychology Today)

3 Highly Toxic Leaders you Should Avoid at all Cost (Inc)

Handling Toxic Leadership (Army University Press)

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