Toxic Leadership: In Search of Prevention

By Morag Barrett on October 17, 2017

What can organizations do to prevent toxic leadership?

Perhaps what’s needed is a counter-intuitive approach. Instead of dwelling on toxic behaviors’ destructive impact, consultants and coaches can work with people to create early awareness of dysfunctions. When toxicity is identified early on, there is an opportunity to turn deficits into innovative solutions.

Is this unrealistic? I don’t think so. I’ve seen the positive impact an investment in cultivating professional relationships can have, and I’m not alone!

Instead of viewing toxic leaders as villains and liabilities, think of them as potential assets, innovators and rebels, urges management professor Alan Goldman in Transforming Toxic Leaders. Working on the premise that “toxicity is a fact of company life,” Goldman suggests there are advantages to be gained from skillful anticipation, control, and handling of troubled and difficult leaders. Dysfunctional organizations will ignore toxicity and its impact.

Conversely, successful companies come up with resourceful, innovative strategies for turning seeming deficits into developmental opportunities.

Toxicity Prevention Plan - Here are 6 steps to preparing for toxicity’s impact on the workplace:
  1. Take a proactive, preventive approach to detecting and handling dysfunctional behaviors.
  2. Articulate strategies for identifying problems throughout the company.
  3. Find innovative ways to solve identified toxicity problems. Focus on developing Ally mindset, behaviors and relationships across the business.
  4. Provide leadership and employees with emotional-intelligence training, which will improve relationships and toxin detection/management skills.
  5. Empower all employees to function as toxin detectors and handlers.
  6. Use tools like the Relationship Diagnostic and Ally Mindset Profile for early detection of interpersonal problems and dysfunctional behaviors.
What do you think? Do you think that having an articulated prevention policy in place at work will help people become aware of toxic behaviors and take remedial steps earlier rather than later?

I don’t think it’s unrealistic. I’ve seen problems turn around when they’re dealt with before they grow out of hand. If you’ve got questions, let’s talk. 
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