Toxic leaders let their poison infiltrate entire organisations, and once they get authority over others, well it is all downhill from there.
But thankfully, their poisonous influence can be destroyed and you can regain a culture of positivity and trust. Bt you have to do the hard yards once that poison is already inside your business.
1. Tell The Truth
Toxic leaders thrive when no one tells the truth, but the reverse is also true. If your employees are honest about each other, they can uncover toxic conduct and destroy it (and hopefully eliminate it). Employees know how obnoxious leaders can be, but reporting their actions isn’t always worth the effort. And sometimes, it is down right scary to stand up to someone in a leadership role.
Not only do toxic people seek revenge, but they also love destroying communication lines. That makes it easier for them to isolate coworkers so they can emotionally manipulate them.
If you want your employees to tell the truth, then you need to reward them for doing so and step up your management game. Speaking out against a co-worker is always risky, especially if they are voicing criticism a superior with the authority or influence to punish them, so have a system in place for employees to come to you. Whether that is in person or online, or some times anonymously.
You don’t have to offer monetary incentives to get people to speak the trust; praising them is sometimes enough, though it doesn’t hurt to remind them that you are very thankful for contributing to the future success of the business. These are the kind of workers you want around long term, so nourish them at every opportunity.
2. Create Deadlines
People won’t correct their conduct if they don’t get clear directions (and if you don’t hold them accountable to those deadlines). Procrastinating is easy, and having no deadlines means they are getting away with their toxicity.
Troublesome managers don’t always make destructive decisions intentionally. Micro managers, for example, want to do a good job and work hard; they just don’t understand that they are wasting company time and often annoying the hardest workers in the process.
Create deadlines that your employees can meet. Breaking them down into small steps means everyone can follow their progress and make needed adjustments. It is also a good idea to clarify offenses and punishments. Some actions deserve swift and harsh penalties, including firing; informing your employees is a powerful deterrent.
3. Cut Your Losses
Knowing when to let members of your leadership team go is vital – you need to always be thinking about the big picture. Managers influence decisions at every level of your business, including who you hire and fire. Toxic personalities hire candidates that look like themselves, which creates more poison in your business. Don’t let them get away with it.
The resources you spend on recruiting and mentoring a team member are already gone. You are losing money and damaging your reputation every day a toxic leader stays on staff. Whilst firing staff is not pleasant, always make decisions that will help your company in the long term.
4. Promote Integrity
In business, character matters. It is what makes clients come back again and again. Creating policies that prevent toxic behaviour is vital, but people are infinitely creative. Given enough time, people will work out how to bypass the system, even if it means bribing and blackmailing coworkers.
Hiring and promoting employees with strong character will transform a corrupt leadership team, as long as they are free to influence their coworkers. If you think toxicity is in a specific department within your organisation, attack it from above with the right leadership style.
This simple solution often leads to quick results. You will face stiff resistance, but it will weaken over time as toxic influences lose power.
So what character traits should you seek? Emotional maturity will stand out; it is hard to miss in an employee’s actions and work history. Next, look for candidates who value people over possessions. If someone would prefer to walk away from a toxic culture than become part of it, they might be a perfect fit for your team.