How toxic leaders destroy people as well as organisations

Source: Theo Veldsman, The Conversation, January 13, 2016

….Toxic leadership represents the “dark” side of leadership. It affects individuals as well as organisations.

In the case of individuals toxic leadership refers to ongoing, deliberate, intentional actions – the “arrow” – by a leader to undermine the sense of dignity, self-worth and efficacy of an individual – the “poison”. This results in exploitative, destructive, devaluing and demeaning work experiences. These destructive actions may be physical, psychosocial or even spiritual when they diminish a person’s meaning and purpose.

A toxic organisation is one that erodes, disables and destroys the physiological, psychosocial and spiritual well being of the people who work in it in permanent and deliberate ways. In other words, an organisation becomes metaphorically a “poison pill” for employees.

Workplace bullying is similar to toxic leadership, but is just one form of it. Bullying is more centred on individual, one-on-one, physical or emotional abuse by any one individual, including a leader, on another person.

In contrast to toxic leadership, healthy, authentic leadership nurtures and affirms the dignity, worth and efficacy of an individual. It creates enabling, empowering and meaningful work experiences…..