How Leaders Create Toxic Culture

People at the top of a company have a lot of power over those they lead, whether it’s a big company or a small team. Others in the company look up to these leaders to know what’s okay and what’s not. The way leaders act sets an example for everyone else, but many teams don’t take this responsibility seriously.

Leadership teams should bring their companies together to work well. At their best, they do this effectively. At their worst, they might show behaviors that are harmful and even get rewarded for them.

Problems to Watch Out For

Scattered Priorities:

  • Many leadership teams don’t spend much time together, and their meetings often lack focus.
  • High-performing teams prioritize critical issues 93% of the time, but low-performing teams only do it 62% of the time.

Unhealthy Rivalries:

  • Some leadership teams compete against each other, causing problems in the company.
  • Unhealthy competition erodes trust and makes it hard for teams to make decisions and lead the company.

Conflict that Isn’t Productive:

  • If a leadership team handles conflict poorly, the rest of the company might do the same.
  • High-performing teams manage conflict effectively (87%) and provide constructive criticism, while low-performing teams struggle with these (44%).

How to Improve

Work Together:

  • Leadership teams must work as a unit with shared goals and responsibilities.
  • Teams should focus on external competition rather than competing internally.

Productive Rivalries:

  • Healthy competition is good, but leaders should avoid setting conflicting goals that lead to negative behaviors.
  • Trust is crucial, and leaders should focus on common goals to bring different teams together.

Handle Conflict Well:

  • Leadership teams should manage conflict effectively, be open with information, and provide constructive criticism.
  • Establish written standards for behavior, communicate them to the organization, and hold everyone accountable.

Being part of a leadership team is a privilege, and leaders should act in ways that others in the company would be proud to imitate. The way leaders behave sets the tone for the entire company.

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