Toxic Leaders

Posted: June 27, 2011 in Songs of Space and Nuclear War
Tags: , , ,

While the Washington Post article is on toxic leaders within the U.S. Army, this was a most  interesting blurb:

But the strain of combat did seem to leave many of the Army leaders pessimistic about the future, with only 38 percent saying that the Army was headed in the right direction to prepare for the challenges of the next 10 years.

I’m not sure how the ‘strain of combat’ leads to/is linked with the ‘wrong direction’ issue, but if you just take the second half of the sentence and say ‘only 38 percent of those surveyed think the Army is head in the right direction for the challenges of the next decade,’ that’s revelatory.

Of course, toxic leadership is not constrained to the Army, the military services, the DoD, government, or even industry.  It’s everywhere and the military is a reflection of the society it draws on.  There are also certain institutional rewards/punishments and lessons learned which can lead someone who is ‘toxically neutral’ towards the dark side, or conversely, to the light.

What is toxic leadership?

commanders who put their own needs first, micro-managed subordinates, behaved in a mean-spirited manner or displayed poor decision making.

As such, it would appear that idiot leaders—those who make earnest but bad decisions—would also qualify as toxic leaders due to their poor decision making.  And remember, one of the very worst things an organization can have is an idiot with initiative.

From the comments section:

The Army, indeed all services, are still old boys networks. Friends and buddies will still get away with toxic leadership. You can’t have toxic leaders looking into toxic leadership. It simply will not work. 

Ask the Air Force how it worked having those who destroyed the nuclear enterprise "reenergize" it.

If I could take out the “old boys” part of the comment, I’d be in complete agreement.

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