[June 29, 2019] If you’ve never had to deal with a toxic leader, you are one lucky person. Whether it is in a job, an organization composed of volunteers, or at home, toxic leaders make our lives miserable and actively inhibit our sense of wellbeing and ability to get things done.
U.S. Army Lieutenant General Hal Moore and Mike Guardia in their 2017 book, Hal Moore on Leadership, identify 10 types of toxic leaders. I found their reasoning compelling and their logic straightforward. You can find a number of articles that also do a good job of categorizing these toxic leaders, but only Hal Moore has the experience under fire, in combat, to flush out the manure from the practical.
Hal Moore and Mike Guardia list these as types of toxic leaders:
- Bully Leaders: those who inflict emotional pain, threats, insults, and invalidate the opinion of others.
- Narcissistic Leaders: those who are arrogant, self-congratulatory, heavy-handed, and overbearing.
- Divisive Leaders: those who are like the narcissistic leader but channel their arrogance toward one person or group of persons.
- Insular Leaders: those that form cliques and that ensure their friends enjoy special privileges.
- Hypocritical Leaders: those who rarely practice what they preach.
- Enforcement Leaders: those only interested in pleasing their superiors; so anything goes to accomplish that task.
- Callous Leaders: has a blatant disregard for his subordinates’ welfare or desires.
- Senior Preference Leaders: gives preferential treatment to those who served the longest.
- Credit-hog Leaders: takes credit for the success or contribution of others.
- Blame-shifting Leaders: these are quick to point the finger for anything that goes wrong.
Of course, any leader can have a combination of these traits. For example, my first Company Commander (who I’ve written about before), was both a hypocritical leader and a credit-hog too. Narcissism has been a catch-all term. Moore and Guardia do a great job of laying out the similarities.
On a similar line of thinking, there is an excellent article1 by Skip Prichard, He does a good job of doing the same thing as Moore and Guardia but lays it out in an easy-to-read format.