Leadership models are like other models. They are standard bearers to be imitated. They’re a yardstick by which others measure themselves. A model is a representation of “best practices” in a particular field. It is the pinnacle of style and design. Most models are highly sought after. They’re an image people want to reproduce. Of course, that’s all on the positive end of the spectrum.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are toxic models. Bad or undesirable leadership models, like other prototypes, are unpleasant to behold. They’re shunned, ostracized, and reviled. They alienate, denigrate, and stress out everyone around them.
A toxic leadership model is usually the poster child for what not to be, do, or say.
Sadly there are lots of these “poster children” littering offices all across America.
They’re loners. Isolated. Aloof. Unapproachable and yet invaluable when you need a reliable number cruncher or analyst.
On the plus side, they’re meticulous, detailed, and conscientious—all invaluable attributes in any corporate setting. But while these toxic recluses are often able to find and diagnose the pulse of a problem, more often than not, they are oblivious to the emotional pulse of the office and its inhabitants.
They demand the same rigorous perfection and diligence from their underlings that they expect of themselves. But they usually don’t understand how to diagnose and then support a subordinate who may be struggling to accomplish a set of directives.
Like most introverts, these toxic tycoons abhor stress and pressure; yet they can create stress and generate lots of pressure by making demands their team doesn’t know how to achieve, and is reluctant to question.
A spur of the moment change is just that for these leaders–a spur, which is painful and disruptive. When the whole team is under the gun, their inflexibility can turn face to face meetings into confrontational exchanges which are invariably awkward, uncomfortable, and unproductive.
All of us have had moments at work where we exhibit some or even all of these toxic behaviors–it’s call life. But when this behavior becomes a lifestyle, it can threaten the productivity of the company and the whole workforce.
Being an introvert or a recluse isn’t a federal offense and shouldn’t be regarded as such. The goal we should all have as leaders is not to vilify anyone, but rather to verify that what we’re doing is constructive, productive, and humane. And ironically, we humans often need help with the latter.
Leadership models sometimes need role models and life coaches to help them reset their lenses so that they can see where they are, how they are, and what they’re doing–the good, the bad, and the ugly. But even this is not enough–unless they have help developing a game plan to change, adjust, and improve their leadership style.
Understanding personality types–especially their own–may better equip these leaders to lead without oppressing. Courses in leadership development training, books on self-awareness, and executive coaching are all tools they can utilize to become the type of leader their workers will follow willingly and enthusiastically.