Posts Tagged toxic leaders

Leadership: Narcissism And Toxic Leaders

This is an excellent run down of a particular type of ‘bad boss‘ that folks might run into out there. The article also talks about what to look for when finding potential leaders for an organization, in order to avoid these narcissistic toxic leaders. They boil it down to having emotional intelligence or the ability to focus on others (respecting others) as opposed to focusing purely on self (narcissism).

Under Jundism, you will find a couple of concepts that promote emotional intelligence. One is to ‘take care of your people’ and another would be ‘people support what they help to create’.  Both of these concepts require knowledge of your people. With that knowledge, you will have the brain power and experience of the group to tap into so you can build a better product or service.

Another more simplistic way to look at this, is to find and hire those individuals who are there ‘to do’ the job of a leader, and not there just ‘to be’ a leader or ‘To Be, Or To Do’ in the words of Col. John Boyd.

One final point that the article mentioned that rang true for both the military and any organization, and goes well with ‘the courage to do what is right’, is this quote.

“If the leader walks by and observes something wrong without making the correction, he has just established the new standard of behavior.”

If a company or military unit knows they have a toxic leader within their ranks, and they do nothing about it, they in essence are saying that it is acceptable. The troops are left wondering, does the organization as a whole really care about their welfare, if they knowingly allow these individuals to stay in these positions of power, or promote folks whom are toxic into these positions of power within the organization?

To that end, I would say that another quote from Boyd is in order–‘people, ideas, hardware–and in that order’. Companies and the military must make the effort to ensure that good leaders are within their ranks, representing the organizations well, managing the mission and contract well, and taking care of their people. That they are exhibiting the necessary emotional intelligence to properly use an organization’s most important resource–it’s people. –Matt


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Cool Stuff: HBR–How Damaging Is A Bad Boss, Exactly?

This post over at Harvard Business Review was awesome. It also goes well with my prior post about curing CEO-itis. Poor leaders or ‘bad bosses’ do immense damage to a company, and I am blown away at how little PMSC’s focus on this aspect of their companies and contracts. You should be doing all you can to find and get rid of the toxic leaders in your company and reward good leaders. This article below shows exactly why, and that is what is sooooo cool about it. It is hard to argue with these kinds of numbers. lol

The money quote is this one though.

And we’re not the only ones who’ve seen it: In a recent article, *Jim Clifton, the CEO of the Gallup organization,* found that 60% of employees working for the U.S. federal government are miserable — not because of low pay, poor workplace benefits, or insufficient vacation days — but because they have bad bosses. He goes so far as to report a silver-bullet fix to this situation: “Just name the right manager. No amount of pay and benefits will solve the problems created by a manager who has no talent for the task at hand.”
This matters so much for two very basic reasons.
Bad Bosses Negate Other Investments: As Clifton points out, none of the other expensive programs a company institutes to increase employee engagement — excellent rewards, well-thought-out career paths, stimulating work environments, EAP programs, health insurance, and other perks — will make much difference to the people stuck with bad bosses.
Good Bosses Lead Employees to Increase Revenue: And, as many other studies have shown, there’s a strong correlation between employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and revenue.

That first one about bad bosses negating other investments of the company is a vital one for our industry to understand. I have seen it first hand, and bad bosses or project managers or team leaders or whatever you want to call them, can make all of the company investments into ‘codes of conduct’, incentives, perks, training, clearances, etc. seem of little use or concern for a contractor that has no respect for a poor leader in charge of them. They will either stay on that contract but do the very minimum to survive ( not be engaged), or they will just jump contract and leave–all because of that poor manager/leader.

The company could have invested all sorts of money into a contractor/employee for a specific job–but it all goes away once that contractor runs away because of a horrible boss in charge of them. Or worse yet, disgruntled contractors tear apart the company from the inside out or go on to sabotage a company. Those horrible bosses could also be the ones that allow a G4S London Olympics screw up, and yet you just don’t see the kind of focus on leadership that is truly required by companies these days.

And get this. When you have contractors constantly leaving because of poor leadership, then a company has no chance of growing leaders from within. That you are constantly having to roll the dice with new leadership that might or might not be able to do the job, all because the company has no one that sticks around long enough to be that go to guy or gal for a contract. This is especially troubling when you combine this reality with the reality of protecting people in war zones. Pretty scary, huh?

I can’t stress this stuff enough, and these multi-million dollar companies out there need to do all they can to properly vet and pick good leaders that will represent the company well and motivate subordinates to be ‘engaged’. Check it out below and let me know what you think? –Matt



How Damaging Is a Bad Boss, Exactly?
by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman
July 16, 2012
What’s the one factor that most affects how satisfied, engaged, and committed you are at work? All of our research over the years points to one answer — and that’s the answer to the question: “Who is your immediate supervisor?”
Quite simply, the better the leader, the more engaged the staff. Take, for example, results from a recent study we did on the effectiveness of 2,865 leaders in a large financial services company. You can see a straight-line correlation here between levels of employee engagement and our measure of the overall effectiveness of their supervisors (as judged not just by the employees themselves but by their bosses, colleagues, and other associates on 360 assessments). [please refer to graph up top]

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Leadership: Rooting Out Toxic Leaders–The Army’s 360 Degree Evaluations

A recent survey of more than 22,630 soldiers from the rank of E-5 through O-6 and Army civilians showed that roughly one in five sees his superior as “toxic and unethical,” while 27 percent said they believe their organization allows the frank and free flow of ideas.

Very interesting. I have talked about evaluations in the past as a valuable tool for companies to track how policy and leadership interact out in the field. It is a metric, and it is something that most companies of various industries use to great effect–if they are done properly, and used properly….

So I can see where the Army is going with this, and I would be very interested to see the impact of this program. And I also think any leader that truly cares about doing a good job, will actually take a great interest in this kind of feedback from their subordinates. I know I would. It would be really cool if they applied this to NCO’s as well?

This also addresses the reality of what today’s forces are composed of. Millennials make up a large component of today’s military, and these guys like feedback. They want to know if they are screwing up or if there is something they can improve upon, and they seek feedback. Part of the reason for this is that technology has kind of molded this generation into a group that appreciates feedback more.

A guy posts a picture of his kit on an online forum or Facebook, and he will get multiple guys giving input about that equipment. You will see all sorts of replies addressing the pro’s and con’s of that individual’s gear. That is just one example, and technology makes it very easy to ask the group what they think.

You see very simple examples of this all over the place. Open source software is stuff built by the crowd, and critiqued by the crowd. It absolutely must have feedback in order to work. And this feedback loop is what a lot of people come to rely upon. Google lives for that feedback, or if you go onto, you see numerous folks giving feedback about all sorts books and products. All of this is very valuable to those who desire to build a better product or buy the best product. ‘Get feedback’ is also a jundism.

But I will hold judgement on this program until it has been applied and tested. The benefits could be many, just as long as it is not abused. Imagine a higher retention rate of troops, all because they have more respect for their management? That they actually feel that their feedback has value, and those in their command actually listen. Or imagine the residual effect of good leaders, and how that rubs off on the subordinates. You would be amazed at how much damage a bad leader can cause with their ‘poor example’.

On the other hand, an evaluation system like this should not be abused to the point where officers feel they cannot do what they gotta do to accomplish the mission. In war, ordering men and women to risk their lives, or to kill people is a reality. Hopefully an evaluation system like this does not weaken an officer’s ability to give those orders or to do the hard things. So we will see if this program actually adds value.

Another point I wanted to make with this is that if a leader is surrounded by yes men, or is plagued by group think with his immediate group of supervisors, then how would they ever know if they are being effective?  If everyone agrees with him all of the time, or that everyone thinks alike, then how will that management team ever know if they are doing well?  Or how will they sniff out problems, if all they care about is the input of one another?  Boyd would call this a ‘closed system’, and closed systems are bad.

By reaching out or by giving your subordinates the means to communicate their thoughts and ideas, you are turning your closed system into an open system.  Thus turning it into a system that can reach ‘equilibrium’. Or in the terms of the military or private industry, every one in the unit feels like they are actually part of a team.  Problems will not build to a point where things blow up and get ugly. That everyone’s ideas matter, and that they too can help build a better team, a better idea, a better business. Stuff like this is essential for unit cohesion, and that is why I refer to this as ‘feedback gold’. –Matt


Rooting out toxic leaders
By Michelle Tan
Sunday Oct 9, 2011
Soldiers will now be asked — and expected — to rate their bosses.
Effective Oct. 1, officers will be required to assert that they have completed a 360-degree evaluation — where the officer is graded by his subordinates, peers, subordinates and superiors — within the past three years.
Requiring officers to complete 360-degree evaluations should encourage them to grow and, at the same time, weed out potential toxic habits among officers, officials said.
A recent survey of more than 22,630 soldiers from the rank of E-5 through O-6 and Army civilians showed that roughly one in five sees his superior as “toxic and unethical,” while 27 percent said they believe their organization allows the frank and free flow of ideas.
The survey, conducted by the Center for Army Leadership, also stated that rooting out toxic leadership from the ranks requires “accurate and consistent assessment, input from subordinates, and a focus beyond what gets done in the short-term.”
Gen. Martin Dempsey, now chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said when he was the Army chief of staff that senior leaders must “change the culture of the Army to embrace 360s” and develop a culture where leaders want to know how they’re viewed by their peers and subordinates.
The 360-degree evaluation now required of officers is called the Army 360 Multi-Source Assessment and Feedback. This addition to the Officer Evaluation Record is among a list of changes the Army is making to the officer evaluation policy. The changes apply to OERs with a “thru date” of Nov. 1 and later.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said he believes “multidimensional feedback is an important component to holistic leader development.”

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