Toxic Leadership in the Military

Anthony L Hinen
Muma Business Review  •  Volume 4  •  2020  •  pp. 065-079
In over 40 years in the workplace, I have witnessed creativity and communication stifled because of toxic leadership. Though my experience was in the military and my research was with the military, my goal is to better understand toxic leadership to inform potential mitigation techniques that are applicable to both business and military environments. Toxic leaders tend to draw conclusions hastily without thinking about viable alternative conclusions. They tend to weave a negative story out of the facts known to them and not appreciate that there is information or facts they do not know. My research suggests toxic leadership exists because senior leaders, those leaders above the toxic leader, allow it to exist, either unwittingly or knowingly. Furthermore, non-toxic leaders can create toxic environments by their inaction or inability to make timely decisions. That inaction allows problems to develop, then fester and ultimately, creates a toxic environment. Also, non-toxic leaders can create toxic environments by not dealing with incompetent subordinates, like the senior leader who allows a toxic leader to continue to act out toxic behaviors. Incompetent subordinates generate problems that can contribute to a toxic environment due to their technical shortcomings or low EQ (emotional quotient). The most effective mitigation is confronting and reporting toxic leader behaviors when they occur.
Abusive, Behavior, Control, Destructive, Organizational
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