Toxic environments make people sick, make projects fail, and make best employees quit

“Culture is more important than vision. Some leaders have great vision, but have created a toxic culture where that vision will never happen.” Phil Cooke

Signs you work in a toxic environment:

1) Disrespect and belittlement

2) Unreasonable pressure to get short term results at expense of the long term strategy

3) Inequity, unfairness, favoritism, injustice

4) Any kind of harassment and bullying

5) Lack of empathy, of appreciation, of support

6) Excessive control known as micromanagement

7) Morally questionable environments, lack of integrity, encouragement of dishonesty

In an environment like this, no matter how great a vision and strategy are – they will never be executed on.

reat leaders fix toxic cultures.

They empower, involve, listen, appreciate, challenge, support, mentor. They value hard work and job well done, honesty, integrity, commitment and dedication.

 

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Peter Drucker

So here we go….

1. Quit Trying to Please Everyone

Blame it on your upbringing, your DNA, or some other force, but many of us are compelled to please others. We don’t like the idea of someone being disappointed with, frustrated about, or indifferent toward us. So, we try to please everyone. Not only does this waste time and energy, but it is a fruitless endeavor, because you can’t please everyone.

What do great leaders do? Great leaders give employees permission to disappoint some people. These leaders work with their employees to uncover who truly matters most to the success of the team and organization. This gives employees the freedom to say ‘no’ to certain requests and give a big ‘yes’ to others.

2. Quit Trying to Do Everything

You have a finite amount of time, energy, and resources. When you attempt to do everything, you usually accomplish nothing with excellence. Yes, you might understand the law of diminishing returns at an intellectual level, but when faced with the choice of doing one task over another, you may let our feelings or egos push you to try to do everything.

What do great leaders do? Great leaders work with team members to determine the team or organization’s most important goals, and to ensure clarity about the role everyone plays. Getting clear on which goals matter most and who does what, allows team members to prioritize their efforts, and, like not trying to please everyone, they learn what tasks to accomplish and which ones to let go. 

3. Quit Trying to Fix Everything

Most organizations measure things – arguably too many things. 

Take a look around your organization. Odds are that if you can measure it, you do. The natural tendency when you measure everything is to try to optimize everything. When you try optimize everything, you typically create no sustainable advantages.

What do great leaders do? Great leaders give employees permission to be just ok at some things. They do this by allowing some measures to be sub-optimal, or cut the measure altogether in order to provide a very clear set of measurable goals that will allow employees to play a winning game.

4. Quit Trying to Control Everything

Since birth, many of us have tried to control everything. Some even incessantly watch the weather, the stock market, or the daily traffic report in an effort to control the outcome. Highly effective people know that the best energy is placed on things you can control or influence.

What do great leaders do? Great leaders allow employees to let go of things they can’t control and focus on things that employees can truly influence. These leaders also assist employees to accomplish certain tasks by lending the leader’s influence, access, or skill-set.

Excerpts of this article can be found at Patrick Leddin, Ph.D., PMP and on on LinkedIn