In this essay, I have chosen toxic leadership as the topic of my discussion. I have described toxic leadership that is prevalent in military profession in detail. I have also provided the symptoms of toxic leaders that are useful in identifying them. I have described how toxic leaders affect the military personnel and organizational culture. In the end, I have emphasized on the importance of getting rid of such leaders.
According to Ron Kaufman, “The culture of an organization is like a river. It can be fluid, strong and consistent, serving as lubricant while guiding its members in the right direction. In contrast a river can become stale and toxic, silently killing those who drink at its shore” (as qtd. in Aubrey, 2012).
Almost everyone experiences working under a bad boss or domineering leader. But, toxic leaders take a step further in affecting one’s career negatively. They are the ones who affect their subordinates gravely and poisonously with their disparaging manners and dysfunctional individual traits. In simple words, organizations are damaged by toxic leaders. It is widely acknowledged that the development of the organizational culture is mainly influenced by the leaders it has (Aubrey, 2012). Thus, toxic leadership can be described as the leadership which “is disruptive, destructive, exploitive, dysfunctional and abusive” (Marturano & Gosling, 2008).
More or less every military officer or noncommissioned officer considers leaving his profession once in his career just for the reason that his military supervisor treated him in a bad way. However, this is the consideration acknowledged by those who survived in their career. There is no estimation about how many talented military officers left because of the bad leadership. Thus, it is no wonder that a top-notch organization like armed services is filled with conflicting and incoherent tales of abuse. He bottom line is that a specialized and employed force needs an inspirational leadership that encourages people to continue their service (Reed & Olsen, 2010).
It is exceedingly important to identify the symptom of toxic leadership if it needs to be detected and treated (Reed, 2004). Reviews, interviews and literature have helped to observe the characteristics found in the toxic leaders. A toxic leader takes responsibility or shares credit once in a blue moon. Most of them are not toxic constantly or to everyone (Ulmer, 2012). A toxic leader, thus, can be descriptively defined as one who has a habit of bullying, threatening and shouting. His mood swings decide about the environment of the place of work on every particular day at work. His behavior forces the staff to murmur or converse in low voices (Reed, 2004). In short, he is “the backbiting, belittling boss from hell” (Reed, 2004) who has pitiable interpersonal skills and adverse office performance. Toxic leaders are “maladjusted, malcontent, and often malevolent, even malicious. They succeed by tearing others down. They glory in turf protection, fighting and controlling rather than uplifting followers” (Reed, 2004).
In military, it is a daily practice of the toxic leaders to take the wrong and unfair advantage of their power and position routinely. If truth be told, the main motive of the toxic leaders is to work just for the sake of promoting and advancing themselves without regard for their subsidiaries. They even do not have any regard for the Army profession and never consider the long-term implications of their actions to their unit. The careers of the military officers are harmed severely due to the toxic leadership. This doesn’t end here. As a consequence, the military organization is also gravely impacted with the presence of such poisonous leaders who destroy the company with their attitude and conduct. The culture of the organization is impacted by the toxic leaders’ engagement in behaviors that are self-destructive. It does not matter to him if because of his attitude the organizational values are at stake. Every so often, is unsuccessful in adhering to the rules and regulations and policies of the organization. Toxic leaders also found to endorse or pay no attention to the non-cooperation and rebellious attitude of their subordinates (Aubrey, 2012).
Toxic leaders have the power to control through culture. They cleverly internalize their personal values in the unit and thus, their values become the part of the values of their subordinates. This makes the officers under the toxic leader to pay no heed to the organizational values and blindly follow what is being commanded by the toxic leader. As a consequence of this whole scenario in the military, the organization is damaged by the toxicity of the leader who imposes and controls the standards, attitudes, and norms within the organization (Aubrey, 2012).
The toxic leaders have a destructive nature that makes them to emphasize on the attainment of apparent short-term goals. They are those clever individuals who present before their superiors the extraordinary, eloquent summary and consequences/outcomes of the missions accomplished under their commandment. At the same time, they have no concern regarding the morale of the subordinates. This is the reason why toxic leaders are also widely acknowledged by their followers as bigheaded, overconfident, expedient, stubborn, and paltry. It is also important to note here that if a leader is thunderous, influential and tough so he would be toxic at the same time (Reed, 2004).
In many cases, the toxic leader is the one who has a soft voice and demonstrates a sincere nature. At the end of the day, there is not a single definition of the toxic leader. There is not a particular behavior that represents one as toxic. If truth be told, it is the amalgamation of negativity and non-motivational behavior that significantly affects the morale of the unit. In short, though a toxic leader might be a proficient and result-oriented commander for a short time but his contribution as an unhealthy controller of the atmosphere has crucial effects on the unit that are enduring (Reed, 2004).
The awful thing about this whole scenario is that most of the superiors in the army do not pay any attention to the style of toxic leaders that generates bitterness and offense. Toxic leaders have the poisonous potential to create a feeling of turbulence and disapproval in the troops. Toxic leaders are fond of leading by fear and this does not help the officers under him in any smallest way. The other disturbing thing is that normally not a single soldier complains about the behavior of the toxic leader officially to the superior authorities because of the fear or respect taught in the military (Reed, 2004). However, there is a need to change this practice if things are to be changed for good. It is the moral necessity that such leaders are identified and stopped from going any further in their positions for the reason that “the higher they are in the system, the more damage they do” (Reed, 2004).
This is because subordinates have to experience and go through daily challenges represented by the toxic leader on a daily basis. This state of affairs consequently results in redundant stress within the organization, development of unconstructive and depressive values and bleakness. Toxic leaders are an abomination to the units’ wellbeing and strength. They can be rather quick to respond to tasks assigned by the superior officers. Moreover, they are submissive towards their colleagues and particularly show a down-to-earth attitude when interact with the higher officials (Reed, 2004).
On the other hand, they are completely opposite when they intermingle with the subsidiaries. Thus, it is one of the main characteristic of the toxic leaders that they elevate in their careers over the cadavers of those who are under their command. This is the reason why the soldiers who serve under such leaders become disappointed and dissatisfied with their military careers and Army (Reed, 2004).
Thus, the presence of toxic leaders in the military does not add any value to the organizational culture. In case if the unit under a toxic leader performs well, it is just a short period of time as the long term consequences of toxic leadership have always proven to be detrimental for the health of the unit. Thus, it is highly needed by the Army to have leaders whose leadership can benefit the Army in every way. The military is in need of such leaders on whom soldiers have trust and confidence for the effective completion of the duties and missions (Reed, 2004).
Aubrey, D. W. (2012, March 15). The Effect of Toxic Leadership. DTIC. Retrieved March 24, 2013, from http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA560645
Marturano, A., and J. Gosling.Leadership: The Key Concepts. New York: Routledge, 2008. Print.
Reed, G. E. (2004). Toxic Leadership. Military Review, 84(4), 67+. Retrieved March 24, 2013, from http://www.questia.com/read/1P3-682608091/toxic-leadership
Reed, G. E., & Olsen, R. A. (2010). Toxic Leadership: Part Deux. Military Review,90 (6), 58+. Retrieved March 24, 2013, from http://www.questia.com/read/1G1-253536814/toxic-leadership-part-deux
Ulmer, W. F. (2012, June). TOXIC LEADERSHIP: What Are We Talking About?. Army, 62 (6), 47+. Retrieved March 24, 2013, from http://www.questia.com/read/1P3-2697619541/toxic-leadership-what-are-we-talking-about