Toxic leadership is a term that is commonly talked about in the corporate world. It refers to leaders who engage in behaviors that are detrimental to the well-being of their employees, such as bullying, ignoring feedback, and micromanaging. However, it is important to recognize that the problem of toxicity in the workplace is not limited to just leaders. In fact, there is a lesser-known issue of toxic followers who can also be quite disruptive in the workplace.
Toxic followers can be just as harmful to a workplace as toxic leaders. They may engage in behavior such as spreading rumors, being negative, lacking motivation, or micromanaging their colleagues. These actions can rapidly become a significant source of dysfunction, leading to a decline in productivity, low employee morale, and increased turnover rates.
So, what can be done about it?
If you notice employees engaging in toxic behavior, it is essential to address it quickly. One approach is to hold individual conversations with the people in question to try and understand why they are behaving this way.
In some cases, toxic behavior may stem from a lack of trust. Maybe they feel unsupported in their work, or they have experienced conflict with co-workers. In such a scenario, counseling or team-building exercises may be necessary to address the underlying issues.
It is also crucial to establish guidelines on what behaviors are acceptable and what are not. A workplace culture that prioritizes open communication, collaboration, and mutual respect can go a long way in mitigating toxic behavior.
Lastly, be sure to evaluate your hiring process. Companies should not only focus on hiring the right leaders, but also the right followers. Look for individuals who demonstrate a willingness to learn, adapt, and make positive contributions to the team.
Now, let’s shift our focus to the traits that contribute positively to a work environment. Being accountable, respectful, and aware are essential traits for any employee.
Accountability means taking ownership of one’s actions and accepting responsibility for their outcomes. Employees who hold themselves accountable earn the trust and respect of their colleagues, and they are the ones who are most likely to succeed in their jobs.
Respect is equally important. Employees should always treat their colleagues and supervisors with tact and consideration. Communication should be courteous and professional, even in challenging situations. When employees model respectful behavior, they help create a positive and productive work environment.
In conclusion, toxic followers are a real issue in workplaces. While most of the focus is on toxic leadership, it is crucial to recognize and address toxic behavior when it stems from any employee. By responding quickly, creating a mutually respectful culture, and hiring the right people, businesses can transform toxic followers into positive contributors who help the company thrive.