Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Toughest Job of an Organizational Leader

The toughest job (and most important) of a leaders of leaders is replacing an ineffective leader.  The United States Army, which depends, like most organizations, on several layers of leadership to accomplish it's mission, recently conducted a leadership survey of 22,000 Army leaders.  The survey conducted by the Center for Army Leadership noted that 97% of officers and sergeants had observed an "exceptional leader" within the Army in the past year.  The survey also noted that 80% of Army officers and sergeants had directly observed a "toxic leader" in the last year and 20% of leaders had worked directly for a "toxic leader".

The Army knows what leadership looks like.   Exceptional leaders provide purpose, direction, and motivation to their units.  These units reflect the confidence and competence of their leader.  The Army has defined "toxic leaders" as leaders who put their needs before the needs of the unit, mission, or troops, micro manage their subordinates, are mean spirited, and consistently make poor decisions.  The study also noted that these "toxic leaders create a self-perpetuating cycle with harmful and long-lasting effects on morale, productivity and retention of quality personnel."

The study also concluded, "there is no indication that the toxic leadership issue will correct itself."

Leaders everywhere should take notice of these findings.   Here is the worst kind of proof.  Selfish leaders can destroy the morale, effectiveness, and sustainability of organizations and the pattern of toxic leaders will not cure itself.  Only you can identify the toxic leaders in your ranks and take accountability for correcting the leadership issues before too much damage is done to your organization.

It's a tough job, but if you are the leader, you are the only person capable of eliminating toxic leaders from your organization.  Take care of your team and stamp out toxic leaders so your organization can thrive.

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