Have you ever worked in an environment where it just feels toxic and you don’t feel you can actually work in that environment? What you might be observing in people around you, is toxic leadership, In this blog I’ll give you and overview of what the four attribute on what toxic leadership are.

Whenever you and I work, we can often observe and see in different people different attributes. Some are really good like influence and persuasion, but sometimes you might see toxicity, or what I call the four toxic attributes of leadership.

Toxic Attribute – Manipulation
I remember speaking with a friend who was preparing a report for a colleague who had to present at an executive board meeting. However, there was something about the request that he was being asked to do that made him feel that there was a hidden agenda. Sure enough, later on, it did transpire that there was something happening, the person who was presenting in the board took all the credit for the report! My friend felt like he was being manipulated. Have you ever seen that at work? That is the first attribute of toxic leadership, manipulation.

Toxic Attribute – Domination
When manipulation has faded away, you often see the second stage of toxicity. You go from manipulation to domination. This attribute has a pushy focus and presents in a way like; “your view no longer matters, It is about me, you can’t have a voice, and just do the work.”
Have you ever seen that at work ? Where someone is just too dominating, that is an attribute of toxicity, because it begins to squash the team, the environment, the culture of the company, and it drives out talent and reduces the likelihood remaining productive as a workforce.

Toxic Attribute – Intimidation
The third attribute of toxic leaders is intimidation. People who use this toxic attribute always have a caveat and a consequence attached to their leadership. Often controlled by fear, the language is ‘if you do that, I’ll make sure you will get this….’. This type of behaviour is possibly one of the most erosive attributes you can see within a team. Your team begin to operate is an atmosphere or a culture of “lets cover our back with emails” Have you ever seen that happen? Or you get behaviours where people come in and they are ‘walking on egg shells’. Grievances go up, sickness goes up, and it’s all because there is toxicity of intimidation within the culture of the company or the team.

Toxic Attribute – Isolation
The final attribute of toxic leaders is isolation. This is when the individual withdraws themselves from you, from the team and even from the company. In essence they use silence to control you. They withdraw you from meetings that you should have been attending, or they just don’t invite you. This is a very subtle but so powerful toxic attribute that erodes the confidence and the productivity of any person or any team in an organisation.

The Antidote to Toxic Attributes

  • The antidote to manipulation is to confront reality. It is okay and fine to actually sit with someone who is being manipulating and confront the reality.
  • What’s the antidote to the next toxic behaviour? Domination. With domination, one of the key things that you need to do, is remain assertive. You need to dig deep and have the courage to voice your view, your contribution, and being assertive is the key antidote to domination.
  • What about intimidation? Having heard different people how they have dealt with behaviours of intimidation, there seems to be, one behaviour above all that helps. That is talk straight. There is no time when you or I should feel like that we need put up with people who are intimidating. The greatest thing you can do which will raise the respect and credibility of who you are, is to confront the intimidation and talk straight.
  • The antidote to isolation, is to create a transparent culture. You see, when someone withdraws from you, your antidote is to remain transparent. Remaining open is always key to combating isolating attributes. When the isolation finally subsides, you have always been seen and shown a transparency remaining accountable, openly and honest.