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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Bullock

5 traits of toxic leadership to look out for

Toxic people can be verbally abusive, threatening and condescending. A toxic leader may have some or all of these traits, but also you can be toxic in other less obvious but equally damaging ways.

You may have worked for this kind of person in the past. Some of you ARE that person! People like this can be drawn to leadership because it plays to their authoritarian do-as-I say “strengths”.

So what exactly are the consequences of toxic leadership?

Toxic leaders can harm others around them. They don't care about other people's feelings and their decisions may defy norms and logic. These people add needless complexity to an organisation by constantly pushing other people's buttons and causing disruption.

Toxic leadership causes more than just psychological harm; it also has physiological consequences. Many of us have faced this type of leader and been harmed in the process. It’s not good or healthy.

5 traits of toxic leadership

Not willing to learn, grow and adapt

To be a good leader, you must take time to constantly improve your leadership skills. Toxic leaders refuse to evolve or learn new information that could help them or their company.

Being unable (or unwilling) to consider others

Effective leaders are emotionally intelligent. This involves endurance, social observation, communication, persuasion and cooperation. People who lack these qualities tend to be poor leaders.

Toxic leaders lack such emotional awareness and social competence.

Being negative and suffocating creativity

Negativity in leadership stifles employees' creativity and prevents the leader from seeing the slightest potential to overcome obstacles.

Unprofessional and mishandling problems

When toxic leaders are incompetent at managing data or resolving issues, the consequences are felt across the organisation. Unprofessional actions, such as dishonesty, gossiping and ignoring disputes are poor management practices that can influence productivity and performance.

Avoidant personality or icing people out

Just simply avoiding the issue or topic is equally as toxic. Just because you don’t like the feedback or points somebody is raising doesn’t mean you can simply dismiss it, or just avoid it. Answering with silence, or just running away from the situation is equally toxic as confronting it in the wrong manner. This ‘business ghosting’ is prevalent especially by weaker people.

That basic toxicity is taken to another level though when the leader actively ‘ices out’ people who challenge things in a constructive way, and just cut’s them out from the conversation and information flow.

TAKEAWAY: Learn how to create goals, apply productive habits, accept opportunities for growth, and build better awareness of others. This will assist your organisation's management team in learning how to be excellent leaders and avoid toxic leadership practices.


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