Term Paper: Toxic Leadership

Pages: 3 (928 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Leadership  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] There is the risk of the unknown associated with the removal of leadership. When people think about parts of the world that commonly experience coups d'etat, those regions are not typically the most successful on the planet, so there is a good case to be made that stability, even under toxic leadership, is better than instability. Thus, people are insufficiently motivated by toxicity until they absolutely feel that they cannot continue under the toxic leader. That is a situation that does not always arise, or is constrained by that feeling of powerlessness to topple the toxic leader.

Blumen offers some interesting thoughts about the role between leaders and followers in this analysis. Followers need to be empowered in some ways to feel comfortable addressing toxic leadership. For example, whistleblower protections are recommended, as well as term limits on leadership, and a high level of transparency built into institutional structures. A good example of a structure that inhibits toxic leadership is the American presidency, where if you don't like a President you will have a chance to vote him out in four years or less; and this is combined with term limits. Compare this with countries that have corrupt, toxic presidents-for-life. Without the right institutions to ensure toxic leaders can be removed, people will feel powerless and the toxicity can continue for many years.

The author therefore recommends taking proactive steps to ensure that toxic leaders cannot take hold in the long run. I look at this and agree with the fundamental message. People rise to leadership positions for all sorts of reasons, but they are not always good leaders. Even a good leader can see his quality deteriorate -- Robert Mugabe was basically Zimbabwe's Mandela until insanity and hubris turned him into a toxic leader. This is why there needs to be institutional protections from the outset to ensure that toxic leaders cannot remain in place.

The psychology of following a leader know to be toxic is quite interesting, because I suspect none of us if asked would admit that we would do such a thing. Most people see themselves as having a higher degree of independence, but we do get caught up in perpetuating leadership, even when we overtly disagree with it. Leadership is a powerful institution and as such there does need to be safeguards on it, to ensure that it is used as a positive force in the organization, not a negative one. In this, I feel that Blumen offers an effective lesson. Blumen even recommends that people who suspect early on that a leader is toxic should have a plan to remove that leader, before the toxicity brings down the entire organization, but that it is important to properly evaluate the leader before doing this. [END OF PREVIEW]

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