Toxic Leadership

Marauder06

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The purpose of this thread is to host a professional discussion on the subject of toxic leadership. It is my intent that we post related articles about, and share experiences concerning, bad leaders. The articles and vignettes do not have to be military-related.

Here's one to get the discussion started:


“Toxic” leaders are bad, but they’re not the worst kind of leaders out there. The absolute worst leaders are “radioactive.”

Oh, you didn’t know that there was a difference? Well let me explain…"


The Difference Between “Toxic Leaders” And “Radioactive Leaders” |

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Kheenbish

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This is a great topic, as I'm sure we have all experienced some form of Toxic Leadership in our careers.

I was recently thinking about his subject in regards to our current posture due to COVID-19.

Currently I work in a very small unit and due to the climate leadership has determined to stop all operations even though we are considered essential and can still contribute to the mission in a large way. I was thinking this was bad leadership since the reason to stop work was personal as the individual is nearing departure and always puts their family (yes their family, not the units families) before the mission.

On the other hand I've seen units who are non-essential and shouldn't be working be forced to come in for no other perceived reason than to make it seem that the unit is still contributing during a crisis.

I think right now we are seeing two very good indicators of toxic leadership, not so much radioactive during this crisis.
 

Steve1839

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Unfortunately, I have too much experience with this...I'm afraid there were too many examples beginning at the end of the Vietnam era when one of the Army's mottos was "Zero Defects" (my father was assigned to an AIT brigade and it was on their unit crest)...one example of a toxic person being in charge occurred while I was in the Advanced Course...we were starting the Tactics portion of the course and the opening class session was presented by a lieutenant colonel who was the Tactics branch chief...after a harangue of a quarter hour or so, he began laying it on really thick about how incompetent and stupid we were...whether we had already commanded, came from mechanized, airborne, training units or God forbid, Special Forces...he showed contempt for all of us...he asked one poor soul in the front row (we were seated alphabetically, thank goodness) what the slew rate of a T62 turret was...the young captain shrugged his shoulder and said he didn't know...the LTC lit into him, called him incompetent and unprofessional and said that any of us that did know the answer to that should resign our commissions forthwith...and after a few parting comments, we had a break and the first instructor came into the classroom to set up for his session...

We began after a break and after a brief introduction, the poor captain presenting the class asked if we had any questions before he began...NOTE...there was a booth at the rear of each classroom that cadre and assistant instructors normally sat in...this poor guy did not do that....
The first question he was asked (and about 100 hands went up ) was "what is the slew rate of a T62 turret?" Poor guy answered he didn't see how that was important...200 infantry captains howled their indignation and it took the Chief of Staff of the Infantry School to restore order...for the remainder of the course, our class had serious issues with the tactics branch...the LTC was made to apologize for his tirade, but it was pretty much too late, especially since it was a very lame apology. Bastard made colonel anyway...
 

racing_kitty

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I could fill this thread with all the stories I could tell. For all the shit I had to deal with at my EOD unit, it was nothing compared to my time in a certain signal battalion in a certain signal brigade. Some of it is morbidly funny. Some of it is absolute garbage. All of it is unbelievable.

Our reputation was garbage outside of post, too. I had detail at the III Corps building one evening, signing visitors in and out. Some random major who was down from Ft. Reilly noticed the combination of 3rd SIG BDE on my left, 3ACR on the right. I will never forget the conversation.

“You’re in 16th Sig BN, right?”

“Yes, sir. How’d you know?”

“Your patches. You have good soldiers, but your leadership is complete garbage. The best thing the Army could do is deactivate your unit and send the junior enlisted somewhere that they’d receive positive career development from decent leadership.”

I was speechless. I know he wasn’t denigrating me, a random PFC he would never see again. But damn, that was savage.
 

BloodStripe

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I had a Platoon Commander, who whenever he was asked a question, such as why he wanted saw gunners to lay down in the middle of a busy road while waiting for a casevac, would go on to belittle whoever asked the question. These were always after the fact, typically during a debrief. I remember having a very awkward phone conversation in our TOC in Iraq with our BC who was in the rear about him. They were very seriously considering reliving him of command while we were deployed. The worst part was, our TOC was a tent and he was serving as the watch IC that day. I was back in the CO's office and having been the watch NCOIC before I knew you could hear everything being said where he was sitting.

I will say though that he never said a negative word to me about what I had said, never faced retribution. He also protected me when I had made a major lapse of judgment in Iraq which resulted in a NCIS investigation.
 

racing_kitty

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Same signal battalion, late 2003. My ex (Tallish Child’s father) survived being shot down over Fallujah. He spent almost a week at the CSH, came back to base, and then went home for convalescent leave right after the big memorial service at Al Asad. The BN CSM told him personally that if he required more time, all he had to do was reach out and it would be taken care of directly by said CSM.

The ex availed himself of the CSM’s offer, and the amended DA-31 was emailed accordingly. Imagine his surprise when he came back to Iraq and found himself up for UCMJ because he didn’t come back from con leave when he was originally expected. It took almost the entire remainder of the deployment to rectify that clusterfuck. His CO said he didn’t need the extra time.
 

0699

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I worked for a former polygrapher.

He would ask you a question. Thirty minutes later, he would ask you the same question in a slightly different way. Thirty minutes after that, he would ask you the same question in a third way. Then, if your answers weren't ALL EXACTLY the same, he would quiz you as to why not. He couldn't seem to be able to tell a subordinate from a suspect. :(

Luckily, I only worked for him for 90 days. The last few weeks, I didn't even talk to him.
 

LimaPanther

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During my many years in the military 2 instances stand out to me.

1. Right after I switched from the Marine Corps to Army I checked into my first company. All incoming were told to report to the class room for the Commander's welcome. When the CO came in, he walked directly to the desk in front of the room, picked up 2 pieces of paper, turned around and held them up. His intro was "This one is for Court Martials and this is for Article 15s and I believe in them." He then walked out.

2. During my first tour to Nam my company almost got wiped out to include my company commander. A new commander came in and I think it was his first command because he was afraid of doing something wrong plus scared shitless. Started with having guards around his hootch because of being afraid of being fragged. But he finally got releaved when he decided we needed to carry a spare field uniform when the company went to the jungle. We were to sleep on them so they would look pressed, plus shine our jungle boots, and he would hold an in-ranks weapons inspection each morning. BN CO wasn't impressed. Can you imagine being in the enemies' backyard, open ranks, with no ammo in your rifle.
 
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