Posted on Feb 9, 2014
LTC Brigade Executive Officer
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<p>All too often, we hear the word "Toxic" thrown around at a&nbsp;leader (Officer, Warrant Officer, Non-Commissioned Officer) when someone doesn't like the way the act.&nbsp; But what truly makes them toxic?&nbsp; Is it because they yell a lot?&nbsp; Because they make use a curse word or two?&nbsp; Because they are demanding and enforce standards and discipline?&nbsp;Is it&nbsp;because they are loud?&nbsp;Or maybe it's because we don't like the way they are treating us and we think they are the problem?</p><p><br></p><p>Now, I am not saying that there are not Toxic leaders out there, because I am sure there are....but what I am saying that it seems to be today's buzz word that anyone who gets their feelings hurt to say "my leader is Toxic, that is why they are acting the way they do."</p><p><br></p><p>Maybe their leadership style is different than what we prefer or are accustom too, but think back to the peace time Army before OEF and OIF and those same "loud" / "Toxic" leaders maintained a standard and discipline that allowed us to rapidly conduct two wars at the same time.&nbsp; Back in those days Soldiers stood at Parade Rest to NCOs out of respect and courtesy for the respect for the position earned.&nbsp; Heck, junior NCOs stood at parade rest to senior NCOs.&nbsp; Soldiers stood at attention to officers.&nbsp; When junior Soldiers passed seniors, they gave a proper greeting (unit motto or simply "good morning, Sir).</p><p><br></p><p>Maybe we should look back at a lot of what the Army and Military has lost by utilizing the word "Toxic" against leaders who simply try to do the right think and keep the Military the profession it is.</p>
Posted in these groups: Checklist-icon-2 StandardsToxic_leadership_logo Toxic Leadership
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SFC Detachment Sergeant/1 Sg
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<div>Major Oberg,</div><div><br></div>Verbal, mental, or psychological abuse is unacceptable in any working environment. Period.<div><br></div><div>A truly dynamic leader can accomplish the same sets of tasks, maintain the same standards, lead the same Soldiers, and drive the same missions as someone who berates, belittles, divides, and nitpicks their troops.</div><div><br></div><div>However, I agree with part of what you said - Not every leader who a group of Soldiers dislike deserves the title "Toxic."</div><div><br></div><div>There are some core indicators:</div><div><br></div><div>* Narcissism. &nbsp;</div><div>* Inability to accept responsibility for their mistakes. &nbsp;</div><div>* Workplace division [creating an environment where they attempt to pit people against each other in order to secure their own position.]</div><div>* Verbal abuse.</div><div>* Threats.</div><div>* Lies.</div><div>* Choosing favorites and making those favorites known.</div><div>* Shallow affect toward others.</div><div>* Inability to engage with societal norms. &nbsp;</div><div>*Talking over people and/or at them even when you ask them questions, and/or refusing to listen to someone due to pride.</div><div><br></div><div>I wrote an article concerning this topic. &nbsp;</div><div><br></div><div>http://tekkek.com/entrepreneur/management/2013/04/toxic-leaders-a-guide-to-spotting-and-coping/<br></div><div><br></div><div>In today's age, with the levels of intelligence in the average recruit and the push toward a more educated force - you're rapidly running out of ground to maintain "the old school mentality" when it comes to dealing with people. &nbsp;</div><div><br></div><div>FM 6-22, Chapter Four clearly denotes the character expected out of a leader. &nbsp;Toxicity has no quarter, no place, and no excuse in a professional force - ESPECIALLY - one in which we aren't going to be deployed for a period of time. &nbsp;Especially in one that is focused more on either training, garrison, or office type environments.</div><div><br></div><div>In my opinion - it's more than high time that we start looking to clean out the ranks and allow some of the leaders forged over the past decade of conflict to move up and take the place of these entrenched assholes who honestly? &nbsp;Can't cut it in the civilian world.</div><div><br></div><div>End rant.</div><div><br></div><div>Respectfully, Sir.</div><div><br></div><div>JCG</div><div class="pta-link-card"><div class="pta-link-card-picture"><img src="http://tekkek.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/toxic-leader-3-300x175.gif"></div><div class="pta-link-card-content"><div class="pta-link-card-title"><a target="_blank" href="http://tekkek.com/entrepreneur/management/2013/04/toxic-leaders-a-guide-to-spotting-and-coping/">Toxic Leaders: A Primer - TEKKEK</a></div><div class="pta-link-card-description">A brief look at Toxic Leaders; what they are, how to spot them, ways to cope with them, followed with a brief commentary on courses of action to take.</div></div><div style="clear:both"></div><div class="pta-box-hide"><i class="icon-remove"></i></div></div>
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SGT(P) Motor Transport Operator
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SSG,

Great article! I just realized it is one I read a while back. It is what put a lot of it in perspective for me. I think I even referenced it in my discussion today.
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SFC Detachment Sergeant/1 Sg
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That's awesome to hear! I'm glad to see that it got some visibility outside of a select few. I hope it enhanced whatever your point of discussion was about.
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SFC MLRS/HIMARS Crewmember
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Excellent article, SSG Gammage! A skilled leader can embrace the standard while fostering a stern and fair work environment without being toxic.
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SSG Mike Angelo
SSG Mike Angelo
7 y
I believe that when the word "Toxicity" as it pertains to leadership has been coined as an undesirable trait in today's generational setting.

How do these leaders get this way? My best guess is that they were nurtured and conditioned to behave in such a manner that was acceptable or perceived as the expected norm of hate.

Yes, I said hate. People are conditioned to hate in their life whether it is from a military veiwpoint or homegrown prior to their military service. Some where along the line, these very few toxic leaders slid through the system. That is why the military has professional development schools. To present a fresh new tool kit for the young NCO/Officer.

There are those who cannot handle stress/pressure and revert to the toxic posture in their daily living outside or within the ranks.

And there are those who have never had a leadership/command position and are running insecure.

The military service should develop a mentor/coaching and personal counseling program to deal with the toxic leadership that the system seems to nurture and condition this not so common organizational behavior.
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WO1 Platoon Sergeant
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Something I have not seen anyone else mention in this discussion that I believe makes up a toxic leader: the do as I say not as I do NCO.&nbsp; All too often I see my peers send their Soldiers out to accomplish a mission&nbsp; that they themselves wouldn't do.
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SFC MLRS/HIMARS Crewmember
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SFC Hazlett, I fully agree. One of the most important attributes of the great NCOs I have worked with over the years is their determination to lead from the front. Demonstration through action is one of the most powerful tools a first-line leader has to enforce standards and influence soldiers. It may be out-dated, but I still love "Be, Know, Do".
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SFC Counterintelligence (CI) Agent
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<p>MAJ Oberg,</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Your analysis is right on.&nbsp; I have thought the same thing.&nbsp; There truly are "toxic" leaders out there, but the numbers are FAR less than some would have you believe.&nbsp; The constant complaining about leadership would never have happened 20 years ago when the level of discipline was much different from today.&nbsp; Our standards have eroded over time due to the military being used as some kind of social experiment.&nbsp; We tell today's leaders that they have to make Soldiers "feel good" and not hurt their self-esteem.&nbsp; The truth is an awful lot of great, strong military leaders of the past (basically everybody who won battles) would be considered "toxic" by today's standards.&nbsp; </p>
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LTC Brigade Executive Officer
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SFC Carothers....great point about 20 years ago...it is disheartening to see the military's standards of professionalism lowered because leaders now have to "CYA" versus doing what they know in their hearts to be right. Thanks for your thoughts!
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1SG Corrections Officer
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Then I must be Toxic, becuase i dont give out hugs
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