Examples of poor leadership abound in every industry, government, and community. Unfortunately, toxic leaders have devastating effects on an organization and with every individual they interact. [i] Often, people become enchanted with bad leaders and ultimately tolerate their manipulative antics. “Followers of toxic leaders often do much more than simply tolerate them. They commonly adulate, abet, and actually prefer toxic leaders to their nontoxic counterparts.” [ii]
Riggio (2016) offers five reasons why people might follow a toxic leader:
- We value the wrong leader qualities
- We equate effectiveness with being a good leader
- We crave power
- We don’t hold leaders accountable
- We rationalize [iii]
Matthew 15:14 (NIV) warns, “If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” Therefore, spotting good leaders and aligning with them may help us avoid the influence of toxic leaders.
Here is a list that Riggio (2016) suggested we use to identify good leaders:
- They unify and don’t divide
- They achieve results but limit collateral damage
- They share the leadership with followers
- They leave the team, organization, or nation better off than they found it [iv]
[i] Mehta, S., & Maheshwari, G. C. (2013). Consequence of toxic leadership on employee job satisfaction and organizational commitment. Journal of Contemporary Management Research, 8(2), 1–23.
[ii] Lipman-Blumen, J. (2005). The allure of toxic leaders: Why we follow destructive bosses and corrupt politicians – and how we can them. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
[iii] Riggio, R. E. (2016). 5 reasons we follow bad leaders. Retrieved June 1, 2017, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cutting-edge-leadership/201607/5-reasons-we-follow-bad-leaders