A leadership clinic has a deep, cleansing effect, transforming organisations as leaders stop behaving like toxic bosses
10/3/2017 6:49:31 PM
|written By : Debashis Chatterjee|
One Buddha and a billion buddhus! One visionary and a million cataract patients. One Baba followed by resounding Baa Baa. Ram Rahim Gurmeet turned out to be the proverbial black sheep. His followers rioted and some got tragically killed even as he was being convicted for heinous crimes. We witnessed how millions of people can outsource their aspirations, their fantasies and anxieties to a socially constructed “god-man”.
There is a lesson to be learnt here: a leader followed by sheep will produce toxic leadership. To convey this in a simple formula:
Leader + sheep = Toxic leadership
Follower-sheep that do not use their own god-given intelligence are bound to be led by clever foxes. Organisations led by toxic bosses produce cultures of defensiveness and structures of secrecy. You can call them organisational foxholes. Followers bury their antipathy, anger and discontent inside these foxholes. This makes the organisation a minefield that is destined to go up in flames someday.
A leadership clinic diagnoses toxic bosses as those that suck the energy and vitality of organisations as vampires do. While leaders mobilise energy within an organisation for a greater purpose, bosses mortgage organisational energy to promote themselves. Bosses operate from their ego-centres that produce three distinct behaviours: arrogance, bitchiness and cowardice. You can call them the A,B,Cs of organisational toxicity.
Arrogance: Arrogant bosses let flattery go to their heads and fear of failures sink into their hearts. They claim organisational successes as their own. You can see arrogance in their exaggerated gestures, in the falsity of their claims, in the glare of their gaze and in their relentless chest-thumping. Soon, however, the arrogance of incumbency encounters the ambush of insurgency. More arrogant the incumbent, the more deviant the insurgent. In organisations led by arrogant autocrats, anger and protest go underground – deep inside foxholes. Feedback channels are clogged like choked pipelines. Discussing the boss through winks and nudges goes on inside staff canteens. Employees are just one alcoholic drink away from letting you know what they think of their bosses. Take that!
Bitchiness: This is a trait that is gender-neutral. You can have a bitching boss perpetually breathing down your shoulders to micro-manage every activity of yours. Very soon he will catch you splitting your attention over Facebook on company time. Then, the boss shoots off a memo describing you as a distracted under-performer. Bitchiness is the sadistic psychological itch to keep people on tenterhooks.