What is a Toxic Leader?

another angry guyFourteen Symptoms of Toxic Church Leaders. is a blog article by Thom S. Rainer that got me thinking about the leadership lessons we provide to young men.

Naturally, we focus on describing the “right way” to be productive leaders (whether the context of their leadership is found at church, home or in the workplace), but sometimes, it may be useful to highlight the habits or behaviors exhibited by leaders who’ve gone off the track or lost their “moral compass”.

The items listed in Mr. Rainer’s blog are good indicators that a person with these traits would do well to receive good natured coaching (and prayer) to bring them back in line. These folks:

  1. rarely demonstrate the fruit of the Holy Spirit (patience, gentleness, etc.). 
  2. seek a minimalist structure of accountability
  3. expect behavior of others they don’t expect of themselves
  4. see almost everyone else as inferior to themselves
  5. show favoritism
  6. have frequent anger outbursts
  7. say one thing to some people, but different things to others
  8. seek to dismiss or marginalize people before they attempt to develop them
  9. selfishly manipulate others to get their way
  10. lack transparency
  11. do not allow for pushback or disagreement
  12. surround themselves with “yes people”
  13. communicate poorly
  14. are self-absorbed

Mr. Rainer’s blog article describes each of these issues in greater detail.

In short, toxic leaders are just about polar opposites of servant leaders.  A toxic leader puts himself above all others and expects them to serve him, while the servant leader does his best to invest in everyone around themselves — to help them grow and work together in unity and harmony to achieve a community goal with shared rewards.



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