Toxic leadership often causes employee dissatisfaction, low productivity, interdepartmental conflict, stagnant innovation, and a high turnover rate.

Unfortunately, in many organizations toxic leaders are a painful but undeniable reality. With their destructive behavior patterns and dysfunctional interactions, they create a disillusioned and demotivated workforce.

So how do you spot a toxic leader? Here are some of their common characteristics.

1. Arrogant

Toxic leaders are very boastful and arrogant. They think that they are always right, and expect others to accept their word as gospel truth. They extend no help to others, and they hate it when someone else dares to correct them, especially if that someone is a subordinate.

2. Autocratic

A toxic boss does not want any opinion other than their own to be heard. They expect others to quietly follow their every direction, without ever questioning the direction. A toxic boss often fancies themselves as the top dog or a self-styled king, and their behavior is often reflective of that. Employees are minions, lesser beings who exist only to do the leader’s bidding.

3. Irritable

Perhaps not surprisingly, toxic leaders also come across as highly irritable. They do want to be bothered for anything. Since they are not open to other ideas from anyone else, they despise being asked questions and avoid it as much as possible. Under a toxic leader, the organization becomes stunted because of the lack of innovative and free-flowing ideas.

4. Maladjusted

Beneath the tough and arrogant veneer of a toxic boss is an ill-tempered child who is mortified of change. They are highly inflexible, and take changes very hard. The toxic boss is likely to be the most vehement opponent of any changes in the organization.

5. Lack of confidence

Though they act supremely confident, a toxic leader has no confidence in themselves. Consequently, they also find it extremely difficult to trust team members. Because of this lack of confidence, tough problems are often ignored or swept under the carpet.

6. Incompetent

A toxic leader may think that they are the best, but they are incompetent and may often struggle to make even the most commonsensical decisions, or do the simplest of tasks. Their sense of importance and usefulness only comes from criticizing others, and making them out to be less than they really are.

7. Hierarchical

Without the rigid structure of hierarchy, toxic leadership will wither and die. If you’re under a toxic leader, you will often feel the pressure of the corporate power structure above you. A toxic leader is adept at controlling team members using hierarchy and seniority.

8. Unrealistic expectations

Toxic leaders are notorious for setting objectives that are unfair and unrealistic. Team members struggle with unachievable goals, and get demoralized. Workload piles up, and the company becomes set up to fail.

9. Symbols of personal authority

These symbols include first right to common parking spaces, complete access to everything, and perhaps even studding the entire workplace with their own portraits and stories of accomplishments.

10. Discriminatory

Not surprisingly, toxic leaders are often discriminatory. Their biases and prejudices often appear in the guise of sexism, racism, ageism, and other discriminatory behavior.

If you recognize any of these signs in yourself, you could possibly be a toxic leader who leads a group of dissatisfied and demotivated employees. If so, take the necessary steps for a sincere change to improve yourself as a leader and as a person.

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