By some indications, many leaders in organizations are inadequate. Among top executives, for example, failure rates can be as high as 75 percent and are rarely below 30 percent. A survey of U.S. Army personnel reported that 83 percent of respondents had seen toxic leadership in action over the past year.

Negative Methods Lead to Toxic Leadership

What is toxic leadership? According to Ray Williams, toxic leadership occurs when people engage in negative methods. Motivational style, for example, might be to belittle and ridicule performance. The culture might encourage conflict between employees. Individuals might receive a message that individual performance counts, but teamwork doesn’t.

Leaders who use toxic methods might genuinely think they are trying to get the best out of their team. After all, belittling performance might cause someone to try to do better. But they’ll be doing it out of fear of further ridicule, not to succeed and contribute. Groups whose individuals focus on their own performance and encourage conflict might cause individuals to do well, at times. But ultimately, the trust between team members, between the leader and their group, and even departments is eroded or gone completely.

Negative methods can hurt productivity and the smooth functioning of a team. Good performers end up leaving. Morale suffers. Employees are stressed and anxious. They are functioning out of fear. Or, worse, they enjoy toxic environments because they can bully or be negative to colleagues.

How to Avoid Toxic Leadership

The best way is to avoid negative methods. Leaders need to inspire and motivate their people, not belittle them. Team leaders need to strive for a unified team, not pit members against each other. Departments need to work cohesively, not create battle zones between them.

When leading both individuals and teams, make your goals clear. Have meetings in which you transparently state goals and explain how what they are asked to do contributes to organizational plans.

Explicitly praise good performance. Don’t be afraid of employees powering down once they get praise. Carrots motivate better than sticks. Choose selected actions to praise: the ones you want other people to emulate. Whether it’s being on time to work or going the extra mile, praising people who do it makes clear to your team what behaviors will be rewarded. It inspires them to do the same.

Make sure your teams know they are supposed to work together. Have group meetings in which each member is assigned a role. Reward the team equally for completion of an assignment. Encourage them frequently. Ask for feedback about how the team could work better.

Work well with other departments. It can be very helpful to sit down with other department managers on your level once a month, to ensure smooth flow of information and troubleshoot any difficulties.

Graham Staffing Services Can Help

Staffing agencies can help you hire team players who have a history of positive performance. We can help develop interview methods to find these people, recruit and check references to ensure your employees will react well to positive leadership methods. Put Graham Staffing Services to work for you by contacting us today.