Is Your Leadership Style Toxic

Recently I spent time coaching a CEO who turned to ReResumeMe.com looking for help building a more cohesive, productive team. I approached the project with great excitement because it’s been my experience that when a CEO or senior leader seeks career coaching they are typically open to change, receptive to candid feedback and understand they are getting ready to become uncomfortable for a while until management issues are ironed out. Unfortunately, my excitement waned within the first 20 minutes of our conversation.

Without boring you with the gritty details, I quickly discovered I wasn’t talking to a leader, but rather someone who was arrogant, shirked any responsibility for their dysfunctional team and was quick to share why his managers-which he personally hired-were incompetent. The boiled down explanation, he had no understanding of the part he played in his declining business or his management teams’ failure. In essence, it was everyone’s fault but his own. He didn’t grasp that his toxic leadership traits were killing his business and frankly he didn't care to see it.

As you grow in your career it’s easy to forget you don’t have all the answers. It’s also easy to forget you need your team. Once you forget you can‘t go it alone, and start thinking you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re on a sinking ship. Don’t wait until you find yourself struggling with your staff and missing business goals. Instead, do a leadership self-evaluation every quarter focusing on the following leadership traits.

Humble Leadership

Humble leaders get more from their people. Your team will be eager to work for you, do well for you and support you if you’re a humble leader. No one enjoys working for an arrogant bully who constantly points out their position of authority.

Candid Leadership

Support an environment that allows candor. Be candid with your team and ask them to be candid with you. When they share their thoughts don’t snap back with reactive comments and petty hurt feelings. Take in what they are saying and look hard for the truth in their words. We all need called out from time to time. Take your team’s feedback constructively and you’ll become a better leader.

Decisive Leadership

Create an environment of decisive leadership. Be decisive in your decisions. Encourage your management team to be decisive in their decisions. Don’t second guess your management team at every turn. Allow them to stretch outside their comfort zone and grow by making hard decisions. Support your managers’ bad decisions and use them as coaching opportunities; celebrate their good decisions.

Transparent Leadership

Lead clearly and transparently. Formulate goals, business plans and accountability plans. Hold your management team accountable. Require they hold their teams accountable. Hold yourself accountable. There should be no surprises regarding performance or lack thereof. Everyone should clearly understand their role, go-gets and responsibility to the team and business. Including you.

Supportive Leadership

Be a supportive leader in good and bad times. Don’t take responsibility for your teams’ successes or hard work. Don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back for work that isn’t yours.

Young Leadership

If you listen hard you can hear yourself getting older. Don’t get sucked into the good old days as a leader. Listen to your younger managers and associates. What can you learn from them? How can their knowledge of trends positively impact your business? Embrace their youth.

It’s easy to miss the fact that millennials are now in positions of leadership. They make buying decisions and impact large and small markets daily. Learn from your team and allow them to drive innovation and develop new ideas. Fuel your company’s positon in the market by breaking out of the same old same old. Come to terms with the fact you aren’t as hip as you think you are.

Look In The Mirror

Toxic leadership will do irreparable harm to a business and must be addressed. Although a toxic leadership traits can be corrected, it requires commitment and a sincere interest in changing bad habits.

If you find yourself constantly hitting your head against the same brick wall with your team as productivity continues to sink, take a look in the mirror and make sure you are part of the solution, not part of the problem. If you need one on one coaching to sharpen your leadership skills,  check out our Career Coaching Services.


Jeanna McGinnis is a Founding Board Member at ReResumeMe.com and AVP, Client Development / Career Strategy at A Players Executive Search Group, Inc. As an Industry Certified Resume Writer and Professional Career Coach, Jeanna empowers individuals to find happiness in their professional life through results based career coaching and opportunity targeted resume creation. Connect with Jeanna on LinkedIn or our ReResumeMe team on Twitter to learn how we are rewriting futures- one resume at a time!