7 Toxic Leadership Personalities

We all want to be strong leaders, but we often have tendencies that can prevent us from reaching our full potential. Some tend to care too much what people think, others have dangerous emotional problems, and many lack organizational skills. Today we are discussing seven dangerous personalities leaders are at risk of adopting and how you can prevent yourself from becoming like any of them. 

1. The People Pleaser

Have you ever worked with a leader who just wanted to be liked, to fit in, to be loved? They are great to be around but their weakness is usually in holding people accountable, making the hard calls and being decisive. If this is you, or you know someone like this, it’s important to help this people pleaser type to see the bigger picture that produces results. 

I think it is good to study decisive people. Ask them how they do it and what kind of results they get by making the hard calls or by holding their team to account. When you study the results, you will quickly discover that these leaders are usually well respected and liked by their team and, in fact, their team seems to thrive in an accountable environment. 

2. The Isolationist

Let’s pick on the leader who isolates themselves from their team.  Not only do they shut out their best people’s input, but their disconnect may cause them to over-promise and under-deliver. 

I’ve never understood leaders who isolate themselves from the people. Leaders who need to be separated from their people won’t be leading long because they won’t be able to keep the pulse of their organization or hear the heart of the ones they lead. They will make visionary decisions based on their feelings instead of the feelings of the people they lead. It is vital a leader stays connected with their people.

3. The Coaster

What about the leader who is coasting to the finish line? They have grown complacent, stopped learning and are totally invested in maintaining the status quo of their business, organization or church’s glory days.  They have probably lost their “first love” but carry on as if changing is out of the question.

It’s not natural for a leader to coast. Leaders hold the vision which is always progressive and forward moving. Once the leader doesn’t have the vision he is not the leader anymore. So, maybe their assignment is up. If it is, who would be the obvious replacement? Most times, leaders don’t have one.

A leader is often energized by a new challenge. Find where the new challenge is and if it is in your current organization, stay. If it is outside your organization, prepare to leave responsibly.

4. The Exploder

Have you ever had a leader turn on you, going into a rage in front of the whole team? Leaders who are lacking in emotional intelligence are toxic not only to their team but to themselves as well.  This weakness in a leader often goes unchecked because people fear them. It’s often easy to recognize in others, but it’s harder to identify in yourself.

I recently listened to a podcast by Pastor Craig Groeschel entitled “Fire Your Inner Boss.” In it, he described the difference between a boss and a leader. He said:

  1. A boss instills fear while a leader inspires confidence.
  2. A boss assigns blame while a leader takes responsibility.
  3. A boss demands loyalty while a leader extends trust.
  4. A boss controls people while a leader empowers people.
  5. A boss is often guarded whereas a leader is transparent.

He said we can have control or we can have growth, but we can’t have both. Isn’t that powerful? I think my favourite quote in the podcast was “Position may give you power to control, but trust will give you permission to lead.

I think as leaders, we need to look at this list and ask ourselves if we are bosses or leaders to our people. And if you dare, ask your team which one you are — a boss or a leader?

We can have control or we can have growth, but we can’t have both. @craiggroeschel Click To Tweet

5. The Bad Communicator

One of the major blindspots in leadership on multiple levels centres around communication. When communication is a weakness, it is often because what leaders think is enough communication is not what their team, board or stakeholders would consider being enough. 

I think communication is always a skill we as leaders should be working on and improving in. Our success and our organization’s success depends on it. Remember, successful communication is not what I think I said, but instead what the receiver understood I said.

Successful communication is not what I think I said, but what the receiver understood I said. Click To Tweet

So, if there is a breakdown in the reception of the message, then it is my fault regardless of how well I thought I communicated it. I must communicate to them in a way that they understand — whoever ‘they’ is. That is a continual learning process for all of us.

6. The Poor Planner

Strategic thinking is a vital skill set in organizations today because everything is moving so quickly. Change is constant, opportunities are plentiful, but leaders who are limited to managerial thinking rather than strategic thinking fall into an area of weakness. This weakness can jeopardize everything they’ve worked for. Some may even be blindsided by this weakness.   

If you are a leader and you are not naturally strategic in your thinking, then I would say one of your first hires should be someone who is naturally strategic. Listen to them and pull on this gift. The ultimate decision will be yours, but the idea was theirs. You don’t always have to be the idea-man to be the leader, you just need to be the one who knows which idea to follow and which one to avoid. That is usually trial and error. When it works, give your strategist the credit. When it fails, you take the blame, because you made the call to go with it. That’s what a leader does.

7. The Cultural Drifter

In leadership today the term “culture” is of constant discussion. Andy Stanley says the longer a leader is in an organization the more they don’t see the culture they are in. At MyVictory we constantly fight to prevent drifting in our culture, constantly evaluate everything we’re doing, and constantly incorporate better ways of doing what we do. Leaders who don’t understand the significance of culture may be blinded to their weakness in this area.  

This weakness in creating culture is detrimental to leadership today, especially in the church. Every organization, every family, every church has a culture. Culture either happens by design or by default. But culture is powerful. It is more powerful than vision or strategies.

Culture either happens by design or by default. Click To Tweet

The right vision in a wrong culture is doomed to fail. I think every leader must learn how to recognize and design culture in order to see their visions come to life. For pastors, I’d recommend starting with Sam Chand’s book “Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code” to better understand how to design the culture of your church. You won’t get very far as a leader without truly understanding culture.

Pastors, we all need you to be successful and go far because the church is the hope of the world and we are on a mission to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by creating churches unchurched people love to attend.

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming article, please email leadership@myvictory.ca.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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