Posted on Jun 6, 2015
SFC Observer   Controller/Trainer (Oc/T)
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How do you define Toxic? When do you know as a leader, that your way of business is out of touch with the modern Army and your subordinates view you as a "Toxic Leader"? As a Leader you think that you are enforcing standards when in reality you are actually perfection seeking and making your subordinates miserable, because YOU can never be satisfied. Can your subordinate ever meet your standard if you, the leader keep raising it?
This is not to counter the idea of goal setting where in which a leader and their subordinate set new goals once they, the subordinate, have accomplished a previous marker or achievement. The subordinate won Soldier of the Month and you start training them for the upcoming Soldier of the Quarter it the over arching goal that you both set to win Soldier of the year. But to purposefully set a maker so high, often times without them even knowing, they can never achieve it and look down on them because they did not.
There are things my old leaders did that today would easily be considered toxic or demeaning. This is no longer their Army and as a leader we can either adjust or move on and out of the way. It's not a softer Army just different and things are done differently. I remember a lot about the old ways and like the dinosaurs their time has come and gone.
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Responses: 9
COL Charles Williams
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We used to joke about this, and call this leadership thru terrorism. It is a the opposite of leadership, in fact. We knew about it along before, we started enforcing it.

https://commandperformanceleadership.wordpress.com/2012/02/09/toxic-leadership/

I would recommend you research George Reed, and Craig Bullis, both retired officers who have written and spoken widely on toxic leadership. Luckily, after many many years, the Army leadership is starting to enforce this.
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SFC Observer   Controller/Trainer (Oc/T)
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thank you for your insight...
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Sgt Aaron Kennedy, MS
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From the USMC side, we have "Mission Accomplishment, Troop Welfare."

A leader who runs counter to those concepts would be considered "toxic."

You have to accomplish the mission. That is the first priority, but you can't do it at the expense of your Marines. You also have to take care of your Marines, but not at the expense of the mission.

A leader who neither adheres to this, or fosters an environment where these are not the primary concerns. That's "introducing a turd to the punchbowl" or basically making a "toxic environment." You wouldn't drink out of that water.

I realize this is probably an overly simplistic view, but sometimes simplistic works.
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SFC Observer   Controller/Trainer (Oc/T)
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thanks for your valued insight...
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SFC Alex Reyes
SFC Alex Reyes
5 y
"Mission First, Soldiers Always"
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MAJ Robert (Bob) Petrarca
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What you define in your commentary SFC (Join to see) IMHO is good leadership. A good leader sets the bar high to encourage subordinates to excel. I agree that demeaning someone or setting unrealistic goals is definitely toxic. Expecting a soldier to win soldier of the year or get 300 on an APFT is not realistic. In those cases you're saying the max is the minimum standard and you will settle for nothing less.

I was taught, ask for 100% and be happy with 90%, meaning set the bar high but recognize when subordinates are making the effort to reach it. Those who do hit or exceed the bar can then be rewarded for excelling. You also don't want to set the bar too low and end up with under achieving soldiers. If you aren't challenging your soldiers enough that leads to complacency which can be just as toxic.
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SFC Observer   Controller/Trainer (Oc/T)
SFC (Join to see)
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you are so correct.
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