A key indicator of toxic leadership is ruling by fear and intimidation. It is another tool in the toxic leadership toolbox. Fear and intimidation ultimately gives the one thing toxic leadership wants and that is control. Control for what is said. Control for what is done.
Other means of getting stakeholder or employee buy in aren’t working so the last resort is fear and intimidation. Threatening someone with sanctions or a job loss or even the innuendo of a job loss qualifies. If an organization isn’t doing so well and needs to separate some staff then what better way to get everyone else in line than with the fear of losing employment. Rest assured toxic leadership is rarely found in Fortune 500 companies so one needs to put things in perspective.
The reason toxic leadership uses fear and intimidation is there is something inherently wrong with the core leadership structure. Staff needs to trust their feelings in these situations. If it looks like it, walks like it, and talks like it, then it must be no matter how much spin an organization puts on its actions.
There are only two choices for those in an organization with toxic leadership. Acquiesce and stay and endure the threats, fear, and intimidation or leave. There are no other options. For those who stay there is a price to be paid for the stress, dysfunction, and questionable ethics that seem to abound. Internally it wears on the individual because human beings are not wired to constantly be victims of fear and intimidation.
You can’t flourish where you can’t grow. One needs to be transplanted to an environment that encourages growth. The best method for separation from a toxic leadership environment is a quick and decisive separation on the terms of the individual. Part time is not an option as toxic leadership can still exploit that relationship. In all the years I have seen toxic leadership and organizations that fostered or supported a toxic leadership environment I have never encountered anyone who regretted leaving and getting out of Dodge on their own terms quickly. More often than not the comment I hear is “I should have left that crazy place sooner.” The beautiful part about this is the one thing the toxic leadership wants from the individual is now out of the equation, i.e control.