Most often throughout the military negative leadership occurs within organization regardless of ranks and unit structure. The most common negative leadership that is displayed amongst leaders is toxic leadership. Army leaders accept the responsibility to develop and lead others to achieve results. A recent survey done by the United States Army confirms what most knowledgeable and professional NCOs already know – toxic leadership destroys units’ morale and leads to highly qualified Soldiers leaving the Army.
A survey of more than 22,630 Soldiers from the rank of E-5 through O-6 and Army civilians showed that roughly one in five sees his or her superior as “toxic and unethical,” while only 27 percent believe that their organization allows the frank and free flow of ideas. The questions at hand is “What does Toxic Leadership really mean? ” Webster Dictionary defines “toxic” as containing or being poisonous material especially when capable of causing death or serious debilitation, exhibiting symptoms of infection or toxicities or extremely harsh, malicious, or harmful. Leadership”, by definition is when an organizational role involves (1) establishing a clear vision, (2) sharing (communicating) that vision with others so that they will follow willingly, (3) providing the information, knowledge, and methods to realize that idea, and (4) coordinating and balancing the conflicting interests of all members or stakeholders. With that being said, the phase Toxic Leadership as a concept was coined by Marcia Lynn Whicker, in her book: “Toxic Leaders: When Organizations go bad” which is all about the abuse of power and its destructiveness.
The United States Army defines “toxic leadership” as a combination of self centered attitudes, motivations, and behaviors that have adverse effects on subordinates, the organization, and mission performance. This leader lacks concern for others and the climate of the organization, which leads to short – and long negative effects. The toxic leader operates with an inflated sense of self-worth and from acute self-interest.
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Toxic leaders consistently use dysfunctional behaviors to deceive, intimidate, coerce, or unfairly punish others to get what they want for themselves. If there is unresolved prolonged use of this negative leadership it may lead to influencing followers and undermines their will, initiative, and potentially destroys the unit morale. NCOs can teach junior Soldiers how to identify toxic leadership to help purge it from the ranks. Units can also implement a culture of mentorship so that Junior NCOs understand the importance of a positive leadership style.
Throughout my 19 years of military service I have learned that a lot of leaders are very confused about the meaning of toxic leadership due failure to educate leaders on this topic or understanding the written verbiage within the policies and regulatory guidance given due to educational or mental deficiencies. Most often this type of behavior and leadership style are displayed within Senior Non- Commissioned Officers and Commissioned Officers.
The Army wants to rid top ranks of toxic leadership and working diligently every day to flush toxic leaders from their ranks. There are currently three cases of bad leadership that affects the United States Military. The first case is “extreme”—lack of concern (self before service), domineering (distrust of others, and uncompromising behaviors led to a work environment of paranoia and leadership by fear and intimidation).
The second case of bad leadership is “moderate” – punitive, argumentative, overbearing, always right, didn’t listen to other opinions, quick to react, and constantly putting team members down as incompetent, conducting daily nonproductive meetings, playing silly games, displays no knowledge of mission requirements nor concern for the mission or welfare of the organization’s military, civilian and contract members. Lastly the third case of bad leadership is “negative, but not concerning” – Information flow does not flow freely and leaders resisted input from others and micromanagement.
General Dempsey stated “ten years of continuous operations have strained the force”. He also stated “It’s important to remember that the vast majority of leaders in the Army are very good and are deeply committed to leading our nation’s sons and daughters. ” The recent military draw down and continuous operations has resulted in a lot of followers are being left behind and the true leaders are continuing Their life in the civilian world due to the inaffectablility to adapt with the changes amongst the military and troops.
We should not settle or accept second-best; even if just a portion of our leaders aren’t performing. We need to take a look at it, because leadership produces more leaders and not more followers. According to recent reports, toxic leaders commonly exhibit these behaviors: avoiding subordinates, behaving aggressively toward others, denigrating subordinates, hoarding information, hoarding job tasks, blaming others for their own problems, being overly critical of work that is done well, and intentionally intimidating others.
They also routinely see their subordinates as disposable instruments rather than people, have a destructive personality or interpersonal skills that are detrimental to the command climate, and appear motivated primarily by self-interest. The point that I have absorb from this report is toxic leadership should not be confused with incompetent leadership or those not exhibiting effective leadership behavior. They also work diligently to promote themselves at the expense of their subordinates, unit and the Army profession without considering long-term ramifications to their subordinates.
Sometimes leaders and subordinates often confuse the difference between leaders and managers. There are listed skills desired in managers, while the skills set do overlap in many ways with the term “leaders lead. ” Definition of the term “leaders lead” –they are always out front, they make the decisions and take responsibility for the outcome of those decisions, good or bad. Managers merely convince, cajole and mentor subordordinates to accomplish a task as often times making sure there is enough blame to go around.
Leaders has compassion, supportive, humility and care for their s subordinate. They are unbiased, great listeners, firm but fair. Some of Leaders remarkable skills are having great effective communication with their subordinates and always provides purpose, direction and motivation. The one main thing that people don’t know is leaders and managers are similar, because in order to be an effective leader you will have good managerial skills and traits. Summary Integrity of character is the foundation of a great leader.
To use a metaphor, it is what you build your very being up from, if you so choose. The building blocks of leadership are built upon the value of integrity, loyalty, trust and fairness. Each and every block represents the values, virtues and principles that will help to house your team. It will be built with duty, honor, courage, commitment, selfless service, respect, justice, Judgment, dependability, initiative, decisiveness, tact, enthusiasm, bearing, unselfishness, knowledge, loyalty, and endurance.
It will be a strong structure if you build with these traits properly and effectively. You need to make sure the leadership “structure” your teamwork’s in is built with these things. Within that strong structure your team will be safe and secure. A leader’s ability to have situational awareness of the environment they are encountering is obviously developed over time, experience, trial and error. Once a leader can master the “push button” ability to adapt the style to the circumstances, that leader’s successes will increase and team morale will improve.
And guess what – They will never become a toxic leader. I truly will like to give SGM Kemper my gratitude for giving me guidance and direction to learn more about toxic leadership. I have learned through extensive research that throughout my military career I have had the privilege of working with great leaders and bad. Leaders have been placed throughout my military path to groom me to become a great leader instead of a toxic.
Even though I encountered toxic leadership I was able to depict a lot of good leadership traits and skills from my superiors to help me take a self evaluation and categorize myself in the good leader category. I will never say that I am perfect and will never display it, but I can say that I am a working progress that is open for professional development and grooming from great leaders. Toxic leadership is extremely hard to detect from one or possibly three individual point of view, but accurately possible from the team, unit or command.
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