Coaching with the Toxic Leadership Correction Plan

Toxic-Leadership-CorrectionHow do organizations correct toxic leadership and toxic behaviors once it infects a business? Is it ever too late for a prevention plan? Is transformation possible in the face of pervasive toxicity?

Many case studies have proved that change is possible, but it requires a major shift in assumptions and engagement in coaching/training. In my work as a coach and consultant, I’ve had success but also difficulties working to change toxic workplaces.

It’s never easy but coaching brings spectacular changes for leaders and the people who work for them. Not every business is ready to accept suggestions from external experts, and not everyone is ready to change. Sometimes, businesses decide to fire and hire, and often recreate similar toxic workplaces.

As author Alan Goldman in Transforming Toxic Leaders notes, every organization has some toxicity and toxicity is everyone’s business. Here are some guidelines based on his writing.

Start with the following steps for lowering your organization’s toxicity levels:

  1. People must believe that change is possible and a realistic goal.
  2. Everyone must accept personal accountability and abandon the use of labels and finger-pointing. Employees at all levels should identify their role in a given problem and find ways to help instead of hinder.
  3. Everyone must agree to limit the use of negative language and focus instead on the organization’s overarching vision and goals. Consider training in positive leadership and the language of appreciation.
  4. Key parties must attend coaching sessions to improve their interpersonal relationships, to process and eliminate toxic stories. Coaches can help them identify their strengths and develop coping skills that address their deficits.
  5. Make training in emotional and social intelligence available throughout the organization.
  6. Prioritize social and emotional intelligence in frequent performance reviews.
  7. Consider recognizing small wins in project management to encourage appreciative communication.
  8. Hire or designate toxin detectors and handlers who are trained in early detection of dysfunctional behaviors. Establish a program for early intervention.
  9. Senior teams and executive boards should be charged with finding innovative solutions to their personal leadership deficits (i.e., appointing dual leaders for some positions, implementing collaborative leadership policies).
  10. Leaders should be encouraged to identify an expanded vision for the future—one that inspires people to work collaboratively.

While these correctional steps may seem idealistic, they’re not unrealistic. Of course, they require time and willingness. Recognizing toxicity as an opportunity for transformational change in organizations can be a turning point.

What do you think? What’s been your experience with toxicity in leaders and in your work place? I’d love to hear from you. Contact me here.



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