The Dysfunction of Toxic Leadership-Guest Post by Stephanie Wimmer

Research suggests that more and more employees are working with toxic leadership in the workplace which has been shown to cause dysfunctional behaviors in the organization, a lack of employee commitment to the organization, and an overall loss of job satisfaction. So what is toxic leadership and what makes someone a toxic leader? The term “Toxic Leadership” was first used by M.G. Whicker in the book ‘Toxic Leaders: When Organizations Go Bad” (Watt, 2016). This type of leadership is defined by the behaviors exhibited within an organization. A toxic leader is not just the typical bad boss who might have a bad attitude or may lack the knowledge or experience to be in a leadership position, but rather a person whose behavior is intentionally destructive and has serious effects on those they lead.

Over the past few years, a number of research articles have focused on a type of destructive leadership called “toxic leadership” (Goldman, 2006; Boddy, 2014; Boddy, 2015; Gallos, 2008; Goldman, 2006; Lipman-Blumen, 2005; Walton, 2011). These articles describe the destructive effects of toxic leadership in a wide range of organizations. For example, authors have suggested that toxic leadership might impair the physical and mental health of employees, invoke dysfunctional group behavior, and may increase absenteeism and employee withdrawal.

A toxic leader is one who uses the power their position awards them to control and manipulate by any means to further their career or to bring more power to themselves and do this without any regard to the individuals that are beneath them. Aggressive tactics such a bullying, threats, and manipulation along with passive tactics such as withholding relevant information or providing incorrect information purposefully are just a few of the ways a toxic leader operates. Toxic leaders have been described by their employees as bullies, narcissists, and even as psychopaths, which any of these personality types can be detrimental to the environment and productivity of the organization. One study (Armitage, 2015) suggests that three in every ten persons in a leadership position could be considered to be a toxic leader. With numbers this high, one could see how this type of epidemic in the workplace could be cause for concern.

According to a study on toxic leadership and how it affected healthcare workers (Ozer, 2017), there are four categories that the behaviors of toxic leaders fall. They are Inapprecitiveness, which includes such behaviors as humiliating employees in front of and behind the employee’s backs, does not value the employee, does not listen, and unsympathetically reminds the employee of past mistakes. Next, is Selfishness, which includes such behaviors as blaming the employee for his or her failures, takes credit for things only when they have gone well, places personal interests ahead of everyone else, and only cares about how they look to superiors. Selfishness is another category that consists of behaviors such as the belief that they deserve the position they are in (or one even higher), the belief that they are more talented, excellent, and deserving than anyone else, and that the organization will only do well if they are in charge. Lastly is a negative spiritual state which consists of behaviors such as if they are in a negative mood it affects the climate of the workplace and the employee’s act according to the negative mood of the leader.

There is a synergetic relationship between the toxic workplace and the toxic leaders who occupy them. As an employee and employer, we tend to follow the natural order in the workplace. There are employees and leaders and the employee naturally looks to the leader for information, training, mentoring, and advice concerning their position within the organization. When there is a toxic leader involved in that natural order, it can cause dysfunction within the organization. As we think about the way an organization functions, it might help to visualize a wheel with many spokes. Each spoke represents a functional area of the organization. When a toxic leader is in control, the spokes of the wheel start to disconnect and break, which causes dysfunction not only to the spoke but the entire organization as a whole. Therefore, the consequences of a toxic leaders’ behavior on the organization are vast. Research has shown that workplace deviance by subordinates who work for toxic leaders has increased (Pelletier, 2010). Employees tend to show counterproductive behavior and even retaliatory behavior in order to try and balance out the perceived scale of injustice. Negative behavior is disadvantageous for any organization and the trickle-down effect causes more dysfunction within the organization.

As an example of a toxic leaders behavior, let us suppose that the leader of an organization while giving an employee a task to do, did not give the employee pertinent information to carry out that task. Consequently, that task is going will be incorrect. The toxic leader can use this to their advantage in many ways, such as pointing out the inferior work of the employee to superiors or coming to the rescue and “fixing” the employee’s mistakes in front of superiors, thus taking credit and making themselves look admirable in the eyes of others. These types of behavior can cause a myriad of dysfunction in the workplace. The employee spends time working on something that no matter how he or she does it, it will be incorrect. Superiors see the employee as incompetent or lazy. And, the employee could either retaliate or have a “why bother” attitude toward the leader and the organization.  With just this one example, one broken spoke on the organization wheel; it is clear that more than just the employee is affected by a toxic leader.

The dysfunction caused by toxic leadership can also lead to a lack of commitment to the employer and the organization. How can an employee commit to an organization that has a leader that bullies, threatens, or interferes with their ability to do a job? Studies have shown that a very large number of employees prefer to leave an organization rather than endure a toxic leader (Thoroughgood, 2012). An employee who is a victim of a toxic leader would have a lack of trust in the organization which would make it more untroublesome to move on.

One experimental study (Boddy, 2011) showed that in reaction to a toxic leaders behavior and the absence of commitment, employees would engage in counterproductive work behavior that they normally would not have engaged in otherwise. Employees interviewed in the survey admitted to deviant behavior against the organization and not just the toxic leader. Purposely doing work incorrectly or slowly, not following instructions, wasting the employer’s materials or supplies, and even damaging equipment or property are some of the ways the employees took out their frustration and lack of commitment towards the organization. Another study (Goldman, 2008) showed that an employee could have a reduction in loyalty towards an organization just by witnessing toxic behavior directed at another employee. An example of this sort of behavior could be one employee overhearing a toxic leader divulging private or personal information about one employee to another or even speaking badly about an employee behind their back while acting pleasant to their face. This kind of behavior can make an employee think that if the toxic leader could do this to one employee, it could be done to them as well. Not only is there a lack of faith in the toxic leader but also in an organization that would allow one of its leaders to behave in this manner. When an organization condones this type of behavior, directly or indirectly, it sets a workplace culture that this type of behavior is acceptable. Asking an employee to put their faith, trust, and commitment into an organization that permits one of its leaders to disrespect their privacy seems unthinkable. Once an employee no longer feels a commitment to the organization the easier it is for them to be able to move on to another organization, thus the higher turn-over rate for an organization with a toxic leader.

When leadership becomes disengaged, unapproachable, dishonest, unsupportive and untrustworthy and the organization looks the other way it is defining the culture of the organization. This type of culture can make the organization just as dysfunctional and toxic as the leaders controlling it. Looking at the organization as you would a personal relationship, one can see why an individual would not want to commit to a toxic individual any more than they would want to commit to a toxic organization.

A lack of overall job satisfaction is another side effect of toxic leadership within the organization. As human beings we have deep-rooted psychological needs to be accepted and to feel like we make a difference. The turbulence caused by a toxic leader can undermine our feeling of importance. As stated by research (Lipman-Blumen, 2005) constantly being forced to confront fears and uncertainty in the work environment could be not only detrimental to the individual’s job performance and job satisfaction but to the individuals mental and physical health. This “sickness” can carry over and become contagious throughout the organization. Toxic leadership can lead to poor morale, decreased productivity, increased absenteeism and higher turnover rates. Employees feel cynical and frustrated, leading to decreased energy, enthusiasm, and self-esteem.

Leadership toxicity is an omnipresent aspect of many organizations, yet few organizations recognize it for what it is. Leadership toxicity seems to be an alluring part of the organizational atmosphere that undermines personal and organizational growth and performance. It could be described as a silent killer among organizations. It can consume individuals, groups, and organizations. Failure to recognize and take action can destroy the organization.

To conclude, toxic leadership is extremely dangerous not only to individuals that are affected by it but also to the vitality of the afflicted organization. Individuals having toxic behaviors and dysfunctional traits should not be allowed to lead an organization under any conditions. Toxic leadership and their behaviors will remain within the organizations unless steps are taken to stop it before it becomes an issue.

 

 

© 2017 Stephanie Wimmer

 

 

Stephanie Wimmer is a Business Management student at Western Governors University working toward her MBA. She is passionate employee/management relations and communication, writing, and sustainability. Connect with her on LinkedIn at: http://www.linkedin.com/in/%20stephanie-wimmer-9b854244. She can be contacted at stefwimmer@comcast.net.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Importance of Consistency

consistency

“Leadership can’t be fabricated. If it is fabricated and rehearsed, you can’t fool the guys in the locker room. So when you talk about leadership, it comes with performance. Leadership comes with consistency.” — Junior Seau

One of the most overlooked, yet imperative, leadership behaviors is consistency. Lack of consistency leads to unmet expectations, confusion, and lack of commitment. If you aren’t consistent, you can’t lead effectively. Here’s why:

Expectations

No one can hit a target that is constantly moving. What do you expect from your people? They need to know what your expectations are and they need to feel confident that those expectations will not change unexpectedly. Don’t set your employees up for failure by constantly changing your expectations.

Direction

Your organization will never get anywhere if you lead in a ‘one step forward and two steps back’ fashion. You need to lead your people in a consistent direction. Sure, sometimes that direction will need to change but, it should not be changing on a daily basis. Don’t confuse your employees and zero out any progress you have made by constantly changing direction.

The ‘Why’

If you want a committed workforce, you have to give them a ‘why’ they can believe in. Your true ‘why’ should rarely, if ever, change. Don’t lose employee buy-in by being wish-washy about your ‘why’. Instead, inspire them to a higher level of performance by making their work meaningful.

Every Day Consistency

Leadership is made up of every day behaviors that are consistent. In order to feel secure in their positions, they need to know what your expectations of them are. In order to make progress, everyone needs to be moving in the same, consistent direction. Employees will go above and beyond for a ‘why’ they can believe in. As Junior Seau said, “Leadership comes with consistency.” Learn to recognize the importance of every day consistency in your leadership.

 

© 2017 Elizabeth Stincelli

 

Liz Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the Founder of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations change attitudes, change communication dynamics, improve collaboration and problem-solving, engage employees, and strengthen organizational culture. Liz holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.

Learn more about Liz by visiting her website, stincelliadvisors.com and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at stincelliadvisors@gmail.com.

What Happens When You’re an Inconsiderate Leader?

Inconsiderate

“Ignorance and inconsideration are the two great causes of the ruin of mankind.” — John Tillotson

Just because you have worked your way up the corporate ladder doesn’t mean that you no longer need to be considerate of others. When you are inconsiderate of those working with or for you, you actually diminish your ability to be and effective leader. An inconsiderate leader does not concern themselves with treating employees with respect, they do not care if they take all the credit when things go good and point the finger of blame when they go bad, and they don’t care if they make everyone else’s job more difficult than necessary. So, what happens when you are an inconsiderate leader?

You lose respect

No one has respect for a leader who does not have enough respect for them, as individuals, to even be considerate. No one wants to stand behind and support a leader who is selfish and self-absorbed. Without the respect of your employees, you have no ability to inspire or influence the way a leader must to be successful.

You lose empathy

You need your employees to be able to see things from your perspective. When you are inconsiderate, employees no longer care how you feel, what you want, or what your perspective is. All empathy for what you, as a leader, are going through flies out the window when you treat employees inconsiderately.

You lose cooperation

Once you have lost the respect and empathy of your employees, you will soon lose their cooperation. If you are an inconsiderate leader, your employees will stop caring what you need. They will do the bare minimum necessary to meet their job requirements but don’t expect any more from them than that.

You End Up Alone

If you are inconsiderate as a leader, at the end of the day you end up alone. No one will have your back. No one will go above and beyond to help you look good and accomplish your goals. And, no one will care what happens to you. When you are inconsiderate, you send the message that it is every one for themselves. And, mark my words, you will reap what you sow.

Check your leadership behavior today. Are you an inconsiderate leader?

© 2017 Elizabeth Stincelli

Liz Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the Founder of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations change attitudes, change communication dynamics, improve collaboration and problem-solving, engage employees, and strengthen organizational culture. Liz holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.

Learn more about Liz by visiting her website, stincelliadvisors.com and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at stincelliadvisors@gmail.com.

 

Customer.

How are You Serving Your Internal Customers?

“The golden rule for every business man is this: ‘Put yourself in your customer’s place’.” — Orison Swett Marden

We recognize that we would not be in business if it were not for our customers. We spend a great deal of time and energy to determine their needs and provide service that goes above and beyond the monetary price they pay. This is how we keep our customers happy. But, what about internal customers? Do they not deserve the same consideration as external customers? For a business to run effectively, both internal and external customers need you to provide excellent customer service. Let’s evaluate how well you are serving your internal customers.

Do you empathize?

First and foremost, do you empathize with those working down the line from you? To provide the service that your internal customers need, and yes these internal customers can work as your employees, you must be able to understand their working conditions and needs from their point of view. You must be able to walk in their shoes. It is your responsibility to provide them with the resources and support that they need to do their jobs. Are you taking their lived experiences while in the workplace seriously?

Are you consistent?

If your internal customers can’t count on you, day in and day out, you are not providing good customer service. You must be consistent. Support one day and neglect the next will never result in happy, productive internal customers. Your customers need to know exactly what they can expect from you. Raise the standard of care you are providing and then be consistent about providing it.

Are you respectful?

Do you treat every individual with respect? If you are demeaning, always looking to place blame, and do not value the contributions of others, you will lose their support. If you do not respect them, they will not respect you. How successful can your organization be if your internal customers have no respect for you as a leader? Show your respect and specific appreciation on a daily basis.

They Matter

Your internal customers matter every bit as much as your external customers. Your organization cannot function without them. Do you empathize with them? Place yourself in their shoes. Are you consistent? Be reliable day in and day out. Do you truly respect them and do you show it? Appreciate the value that each individual brings to your organization. Your internal customers matter. Make sure you are providing them with customer service that goes above and beyond what they expect from you. Trust me, they will pass it on down the line and in the end it is your external customers that will reap the benefits.

© 2017 Elizabeth Stincelli

Liz Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the Founder of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations change attitudes, change communication dynamics, improve collaboration and problem-solving, engage employees, and strengthen organizational culture. Liz holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.

Learn more about Liz by visiting her website, stincelliadvisors.com and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at stincelliadvisors@gmail.com.

 

The Battle of Two Egos: A Recipe for Disaster

ego 1

“Check your ego at the door. The ego can be the great success inhibitor. It can kill opportunities, and it can kill success.” — Dwayne Johnson

Our ego often turns into our greatest stumbling block. When you get two ego battling for superiority, what you end up with is a disaster. Ego prevents us from seeing things the way they really are, from seeing our true selves, and seeing the value of others.

Who is better?

Our ego likes to convince us that we are better than others; we are smarter, better looking, and more skilled. Two things to remember here: first, no one is better than anyone else; second, it does not matter if one person is stronger in one area and another in a different area. What really matters is that it takes individuals with diverse strengths and experiences working together to achieve success. When we get caught up in a battle of egos it shuts down all collaboration and cooperation, leaving us on our own to try to succeed. This is a recipe for failure.

What about building relationships?

Whether business or personal, life is all about the relationships we develop. Like it or not, relationships matter and ego is an effective relationship destroyer. When there is a battle of two egos, not only is the relationship of those two individuals impacted, but also the relationships of everyone who gets caught in the middle being pressured to take sides.

Whose interests are being served?

If you ever want to be an effective leader, you must serve the interests of your followers. When you get into a battle of egos, your interests are the only ones you are concerning yourself with. Our ego leads us to believe we must win at all costs; many times it ends up costing our followers what would have served them the best.

No One Wins

Ego is a deceiver. In the battle of two egos, no one wins. To avoid the ensuing disaster caused by the battle of two egos, keep your ego in check. Remember that no one individual is any better than another; we all have strengths and weaknesses. Never underestimate the value of relationships; no one succeeds alone. Focus your energy on the right priorities; whose interests are you serving? Get out of your own way; recognize the damage that your ego, left unchecked, can cause; and start winning.

© 2017 Elizabeth Stincelli

Liz Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the Founder of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations change attitudes, change communication dynamics, improve collaboration and problem-solving, engage employees, and strengthen organizational culture. Liz holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.

Learn more about Liz by visiting her website, stincelliadvisors.com and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at stincelliadvisors@gmail.com.

Where is Your Diversity?

diversity

“We need diversity of thought in the world to face the new challenges.” — Tim Berners-Lee

As the United States, as well as many other parts of the world, struggles for acceptance of diversity, as leaders, the success of our organizations depend on that very diversity. The very things that we see in others that cause many to fear, and some to even hate, are the very things we need to face new challenges in a new and changing world. We no longer operate in an isolated environment; now that everything we do is on a global scale; diversity plays a bigger role than ever before. We need to value diversity of thought, diversity of perspective, and diversity of background. So, where is your diversity?

At the top?

If I were to look at your management team, would I see diversity? If your management team is all cut from the same fabric, always of one mind, your results will be limited to what that one mind can comprehend. This usually results in maintaining the status quo and limiting any forward movement that is progressive or innovative.

At the table?

If I were to look in on your operation meetings, would I see diversity? If you do not encourage a diverse variety of voices to take a seat at the table, your organization will develop tunnel vision. Who is to say how many opportunities you will miss out on when your vision is limited.

In the ranks?

If I were to walk around your organization, would I see diversity out on the floor? Every one of your employees need to feel included and a sense of community. I hope your community does not all look and think the same. I also hope that the lower ranks are not the only place where diversity is evident in your organization. This limits diverse input and influence as well as cripples your organizational culture.

Front and Center

Diversity is needed at every level of the organization to really be affective. You need it at the top in members of your management team. You really need it at the table where new ideas and solutions to problems are being brainstormed. And, you need it in the ranks where everyone is respected and accepted for the personal value they add to the organization. You need your diversity front and center. If I were to enter your organization would I find evidence that you value diversity of thought, diversity of perspective, and diversity of background? Or would I see one way of looking, one way of thinking, and one way of behaving around every corner? Put your diversity front and center starting today!

© 2017 Elizabeth Stincelli

Liz Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the Founder of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations change attitudes, change communication dynamics, improve collaboration and problem-solving, engage employees, and strengthen organizational culture. Liz holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.

Learn more about Liz by visiting her website, stincelliadvisors.com and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at stincelliadvisors@gmail.com.

Four Tips for Sparking Innovation in Your Organization

spark innovation

For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate.” — Margaret Heffernan

The status quo never leads to success. Success stems from questioning what we think we know, from following thoughts down alleys that frighten us, and from considering possibilities that, at first, sound outrageous. When we step outside of our comfort zone, that is where true innovation happens. So, how can you spark innovation not only within yourself, but in your organization as a whole?

Human interaction

It’s easy to get caught up in our own thoughts. It is through conversations with others that we are exposed to new ideas and ways of thinking. We spend the majority of our time in the workplace focused on accomplishing specific tasks. While completing these tasks is pertinent to achieving personal and organizational goals, it is also important that we make time to interact with colleagues. This interaction can expose us to new ideas and give novel concepts an arena to percolate. Human interaction is necessary to spark innovation in your organization.

Conflict

Conflict can be beneficial when we take the opportunity to look at the root cause. What do we agree on? What do we disagree on? This provides the opportunity for us to consider where we might be right, but also, where we might be wrong. For conflict to be beneficial, it should never be personal. It should not be about the other person, it should be about ideas and perspectives. Progress will never be made if we all think alike; it is through our differences that we discover new ideas and ways of accomplishing our goals. Conflict can serve as a catalyst for sparking innovation in your organization.

Argument

Arguing is the way we hash out differing perspectives and opinions. This, of course, must be done with absolute respect for the experiences and knowledge that others bring to the table in order to be productive. We all have something different to contribute to the conversation, this is what makes the whole more valuable than the sum of its parts. It is when several parties are able to argue their points of view, consider other possibilities, and then compromise that true innovation starts to emerge.

Debate

Debate gives us the opportunity to look at our reasoning. Are we logical, rational, and realistic? Or, are we operating from a point of bias or habit? It’s only though getting outside of our comfort zone and habitual way of thinking that we can start fostering the spark of innovation. Healthy debate challenges our way of thinking and behaving. This is where original ideas spring up and where, working together, we can nurture these new ideas and come up with something fantastic.

Always Have Their Back

As a leader, possibly the most important role you can play in sparking innovation in your organization is to always have your employees’ back. Fear of failure, criticism and the repercussions that can accompany failure deter many employees from thinking beyond the status quo, from what is to what is possible. Encourage human interaction. Support constructive conflict. Value respectful argument. And, encourage lively debate. Set the example and then give your employees your full support. Sparking innovative thinking is good for the individual, it’s good for the team, and it’s a valuable necessity for the organization.

What will you do today to spark innovation in your organization?

© 2017 Elizabeth Stincelli

Liz Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the Founder of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations change attitudes, change communication dynamics, improve collaboration and problem-solving, engage employees, and strengthen organizational culture. Liz holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.

Learn more about Liz by visiting her website, stincelliadvisors.com and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at stincelliadvisors@gmail.com.