Marketing: The Problem with Adapting and Enforcing Micromanagement and Toxic Leadership as a Manager

The Problem with Adapting and Enforcing Micromanagement and Toxic Leadership as a Manager

Literature Review

The issue of toxicity in leadership and leaders is sadly a very ordinary and widespread reality in various organizations today. Many people have experienced working with extremely difficult individuals. A number of studies in the management as well as leadership arena have increasingly focused on many issues, including toxic leadership, toxic management, toxic workplaces, and toxic organizations (Kets, Carlock, & Florent-Treacy, 2007). Even though there is extensive literature on the issues of dysfunctional as well as toxic leaders and management, there is still very limited and significant works that focus on giving stakeholders power and organizational formations in order to identify, transform, as well as address the dynamics of toxic leadership. With toxic leadership, many leaders make works hard either consciously or unconsciously for all individuals around them. In addition, some people instead of promoting leadership in other people, they appear to rejoice and take advantage in the struggles of other people (Zastrow, 2012). Among the legal dispute settlement, low rates of productivity, and low morale, organizational costs of many of the abusive leaders may be enormous. It is approximated that a typical organization costs resulting from abuse leadership has about $3,400 in lost productivity for each and every $10,000 of payroll, because many of the employees are disengaged, which constitutes  to one of the fundamental symptoms of dysfunctional toxic leaders (Goldman, 2009b).

The cost of toxic leadership can be high, especially in terms of human and financial costs through disengaging organizational employees who are at a very high risk of quitting and increasing on the organizational turnover with consequent higher search, hiring, as well as training costs. The fake perception and view regarding toxic leaders’ high levels of performance is unmasked through hiding the costs of the organization.

Defining as well as Identifying Toxic Leaders

Toxic leader was a term that was initially phrased by Whicker (1986) in his analysis of three different types of leaders in an organization. According to Whicker (1986), the three different types include the trustworthy, transitional, as well as toxic leaders. Whicker (1986) argues that toxic leaders are characteristically bullies, enforcers, as well as street fighters and are more often malcontent, malevolent, and malicious individuals, who usually succeed by tearing other people down. Toxic leaders in many occasions glorify themselves in turf fighting, controlling, and protecting others instead of uplifting their employees or followers. Moreover, many of the toxic leaders have been identified as having deep rooted and well camouflaged sense of individual inadequacy, cleverness at hiding deceit, and selfish principles.

Toxic leaders are described as those groups of people who, through their virtue of destructive actions as well as dysfunctional individual qualities, tend to impose severe, lasting, and enduring harm on the groups, organizations, and even societies, which they lead. Toxic leaders should not be confused with transactional leaders or sometimes difficult individuals. As Glass (2002) advices, individuals need to learn effective approaches as well as strategies and excellent attitudes in order to handle difficult personalities in their places of work. Learning the ways and techniques of dealing with various and difficult people is very challenging for both the leaders as well as employees, or followers. However, difficult individuals may not be necessarily toxic. A decisive, verbally abusive, and at times demanding individuals or leaders may not be essentially toxic to the organizational unit or to the subordinate. On the other hand, even the most charming as well as cheerful people or leaders in an organizational may be toxic in a number of situations (Goldman, 2009a).

Therefore, it might not be necessarily that the attitudes as well as style of communication, which make many of the leaders or people in an organization toxic, rather it is the kind of system and systematic discouraging effects, which usually tend to indicate the dynamics of toxic. Toxic individuals or leaders may be very competent as well as highly effective in their works, but such individuals lead to an unhealthy environment among the people and groups they lead, with numerous amounts of consequences, which are far beyond confidence of a number of victims. In his analysis of toxic leaders in the American Army, Reed (2008) identified three major characteristics that are associated to the toxic leader syndrome, which comprises an obvious lack of concern for the welfare of other people or subordinates, an interpersonal method that negatively impacts on the climate of an organization, and a conviction by employees that the leaders are motivated through self-interest.

In many organizations or scenarios, toxic leaders or individuals are very hard to identify or detect because they are more often protected by their employees or followers as well as the organizational structures in which they work. Surprisingly, toxic leaders or individuals are usually very competent as well as effective in the short-run, but in the long-run; they often carry very high financial as well as human costs. Furthermore, the most frequent set of toxicity indicators include: when the leaders or individuals have an apparent lack of concern for their employees or followers, the conviction by the employees that their leaders are fundamentally motivated by self-interest, and when personal dynamics of leaders negatively impact on the climate of the organization.

Kusy and Halloway (2009) also compare the concealed costs as well as costs of toxic individuals and leaders of an organization in order to present the situations that employees find themselves in. What is hardly visible is the toxic individual or  leader’s behavior and actions, but the human impact, efficiency levels, and bottom line costs  are invisible (Kusy and Holloway,2009). A toxic environment or situation in leadership as well as organizational dynamics comes as a result of a very strong focus on final results, instead of the processes to get there. Broadly, toxic leaders and individuals are known by fighting as well as controlling as opposed to elevating and stimulating their followers or employees. Therefore, majority of toxic leaders and individuals like to thrive through tearing other people down.

Toxic dynamics in managers as well as leaders

Flynn (1999) in his article entitled, “stop toxic leaders before they stop you,” offers a concise description of the various dynamics of toxic leaders, which is recognized in leaders as well as managers, who most often than not threaten, yell, bully, and who strive to determine the climate of offices based on their moods swings. Moreover, through poor interpersonal skills and adverse office practices, and by sheer and shameful force of their personalities, toxic leaders make the working situations much unbearable. In many times, the results of these toxic leaders or individuals looks very nice, but just on papers. However, in reality, all is not fine. It is also very harmful, unproductive, and will eventually tear the human resource’s endeavors to develop healthy, joyful, and progressive working environment. Lipman-Bluemen (2005) in his article identifies the behaviors and actions of toxic managers, and argues that they are recognizable in one way or the other through the following actions.

  • Leaving employees worse off: This is especially very appropriate to employees as well as other stakeholders, who are dependent or sometimes in need of the leader’s actions. The behaviors as well as relations of the leaders are frequently characterized through the negative and retreating dynamics, including discouragement, humiliating, threatening, or debilitating employees in their places of work. It usually starts right from the toxic individuals or leaders’ intention to control or get rid of their own employees and colleagues when there is an apparent competence. When such incompetence grows salient, the leaders’ level of toxicity is less obvious and the damage made inadvertently.
  • Violating rights as well as self-respect of employees: As it is for the case of many of the political leaders as well as dictators, the infringement of fundamental individual rights or organizational compliance is usually identifiable in the behaviors of the toxic leaders or dictators toward employers as well as dependents. This type of dynamic is often rooted on the supposition that only the leader is familiar with the truth, and is the one who can act in a just manner. Consequently, the respect that is attached to other people’s dignity, opinions, and abilities is essentially useful to the leader’s accomplishment, and his or her understanding of managerial triumph.
  • Spinning information as well as events: More often than not, they deliberately and tactically feed their employers with information, which improves the leaders’ level of power, advantage, and decreases or changes other people and their unity of values. Through doing so, many of the toxic individuals or leaders influence workers to believe that it is only the leader who can serve them or the organization. These toxic leaders also make an environment of leader–reliance while limiting the capacity of the employees to act and behave in a more independent way. With the intention of confirming the authority of the leaders, toxic leaders or individuals frequently fill their employees or followers with misconceived issues as well as problems.
  • Promoting and sometimes overlooking ineffectiveness: The limitations in an organization are constantly aimed at the reaffirmation of the leader’s selfish management styles. Thus, employees who are willing to heed this toxic leader will themselves promoted, irrespective of their level of capability. On the other hand, capable managers who often do not articulate submissive actions are systematically done away with (Branham, 2005).

Managing toxic managers and leaders: dysfunctional behaviors

According to Schmidt’s (2008) scale of toxic leadership comprise insulting management, demanding leadership, self-absorption, self–promotion, as well as impulsiveness among other dysfunctional approaches. Furthermore, toxic leaders frequently exhibit psychosomatic disorders, which vary from adult attention deficit problems to passive violent behavior problems, to average personality problems and conceited personality issues. These toxic leaders also often demonstrate some favored managerial approaches, including micromanaging, self-worth management or narcissism, and controlling by bullying the employees or followers.

Toxic micromanagers: many of the toxic managers and leaders who micromanage their employees or followers want to portray their dominance as well as power (Vecchio, 2007). The excessive as well as extreme control or sometimes attention to details, and distinctive micromanaging approach, becomes dysfunctional approach when used as a tool for systemic control as well as influence over employees. Micromanagers in leadership usually mirror their lack of conviction in the employees’ capacity to make their own decisions and undertake on projects. The emphasis is as much on the quality of control of the product as mirroring a dynamic directed toward enhancing the personality as well as the preeminence of the leader. Therefore, micromanagers are typically irritated whenever an employee makes decisions without necessarily consulting these leaders (Neider and Schriesheim, 2010).

Toxic  leaders who are bullies:  Majority of toxic  managers  who  manage  their employees through inserting or inflicting  fear  mostly aim  to  control  individuals  by  using  threats in a direct as well as  indirect manner, using fears on the employees, for instance, of getting fired or receiving  low performance rating. In their relations, toxic managers usually reflect maltreatment dynamics. A bully manager is understood as someone who places targets in subservient, ineffective locations whereby they are effortlessly influenced as well as restricted, in efforts to attain personal gains (Edwards and McGrath, 2009).

Surviving as well as transforming toxic leaders

Lipman–Blumen (2005) provides the various strategies to survive and overcome toxic managers and leaders. According to Lipman–Blumen (2005), these strategies comprise of: 1) Taking risks through confronting one’s own anxiety; 2) Seeking the manager or leader within one’s area and fostering accountability as well as democratic processes; 3) Appreciating the much disillusioning or realistic leaders rather than the “paradise–promising” leaders or managers who are often toxic; 4) Foregoing the delusion that employees are the “chosen ones.” According to Lipman–Blumen (2005), the true antidote to toxic managers can be reflected by Zulu’s concept, which shows encourages for caring for one another’s welfare. For instance, human beings or people are basically defined through the otherness of other human beings. Whicker (1996) suggests the following:

1)  Becoming aware that toxic leadership is very a real threat to the health and progress of the organization.

2)  Talking to the toxic leaders or managers in a non–threatening manner, while letting the manager or leader understand that you are aware.

3)  Working through the organizational structures as well as channels in order to express concerns in regard to the prevailing situation or environment.

4)  Put everything in writing, you may need documentation later on.

5)  Identifying the trustworthy managers and leaders in the organizations and reaching out to them.

6)  Becoming very firm at every step as well as refusing to engage in any form of dysfunctional behaviors at all the times.

7)  Maintaining the highest level of productivity despite the efforts by other people, which are intended in order to undermine it.

8)  Taking a long run and lasting perspective, and trying to overlook petty slights as well as actions and behaviors.

9)  Refusing at all costs to participate in secret meetings as well as agreements of any form, since such agreements and meeting would yield a viable ground for the toxic leaders and managers to thrive (Fleishman, Gerard, and O’Leary, 2009).

10) Remembering that toxic managers and leaders are essentially defective and will ultimately seek for self–destruct ways.


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Edwards, H, and McGrath, H. (2009). Difficult Personalities, Camberwell, Victoria, Penguin.

Reed, G. E., (2008). “Toxic Leadership,”Military Review, July–August, 67–71.

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Lipman–Blumen, J., (2005b), “Toxic Leadership: When Grand Illusions Masquerade as Noble Visions,” Leader to Leader, 2005 (36), 29–36.

Flynn, G., (1999), “Cover Story Package – Stop Toxic Managers before They Stop You!” Workforce, p. 40.

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