I have often been called on to turn around toxic cultures and relationships. They can be abusive, or harassing, or unproductive or conflict-ridden. In every situation, the results of the organisation or team suffer.

Always … Always! … the leadership of the group or organisation has been involved and responsible at some level. For very large organisations, it may not be the chief executive, but for any group, you can find a substantial root at the foot of the leadership just one or two levels away from the individuals concerned (if the leaders themselves are not the subject of investigation).

That’s why I don’t find credible cries from immediate leadership that they never saw or knew anything about workplace sexual harassment scandals currently rocking Hollywood, the media and politics in the US – and, as it starts to come out, around the world. Either those plaintiffs are deceitful or so amazingly ignorant that they ought to be dismissed anyway.

It’s like leaders (e.g. the head of Australian Olympics) who claim all of the kudos when their organisation does really well (“It was my efforts that led to us winning all of those gold medals”) but deny responsibility or accountability when failing to win (“Well, the reason they’re not winning gold is because government has to give us a lot more money. That’s why the athletes are failing. It’s not my fault.”).

If you’re in leadership and you have your eyes even partially open, you should recognise signs and do something about harassment, abuse, conflict, toxicity and results. That’s part of the burden and responsibility – and challenge – that goes along with the privilege of leadership.

© 2017 Peter J. McLean www.petermclean.co

Toxic Cultures & Leaders
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