If you were tasked to infiltrate, undermine, and tear down a rival organization, how would you do it? Here are four suggestions to effectively create a toxic leadership culture:
One great way to generate frustration and confusion in any team is to have multiple rulebooks. This toxic leadership strategy is generally accomplished by having one set of written rules for part of your staff and some unwritten / contrary rules that apply to those you consciously or unconsciously select.
For example, use your employee or volunteer handbook to lay out all the expectations for team members. For added effect, have each team member sign the set of rules. Over the course of time, enforce the written rules for some while completely ignoring them for others.
Don’t make a big deal about it, just pretend not to notice when the “special” people violate the written rules. Don’t worry, your efforts will not go unnoticed by those for whom the rules are enforced. They will get a growing sense of unfairness and will find camaraderie with others who are also being treated unfairly. Before you know it, you will have an underground war, with resentment, lost productivity and team strife.
To keep team members on their toes, change and reprioritize standards regularly and randomly. When something does not go according to a standard you set earlier, ignore it one time and later, when it happens again, make a huge stink!
Do this with multiple standards and your team will never know what’s important and what’s not. They will simply write it off to your mood. This strategy will make staff believe that there is no way to satisfy you, so they will stop trying.
Make Everything a Priority
Each time you talk to your team, give them a “priority de jour.” This is as easy as stating whatever is on your mind and adding “this is your priority.” By constantly and capriciously changing priorities, your team will seldom achieve any priority before abandoning it for a new one. If done correctly, your team will eventually ignore you altogether thereby making any level of success highly unlikely.
There are many fabulous ways to demonstrate distrust in team members. One of the best ways, is to assign a task and then undermine or take it away from them. This can be done by micromanaging them, asking someone else to do it, or jumping in and doing it yourself. For added effect, roll your eyes and hold them responsible for any failures or inadequacies.
This strategy is especially easy for leaders who are innately gifted control-freaks. If you are one of these, simply follow your gut. Demonstrating distrust will leave team members with a sense of futility and worthlessness. Over time, they will no longer show initiative, take ownership, or have enough confidence to be a valuable team member.
While there are numerous ways to create a toxic leadership culture these four are sure to get you started in the right direction. Here’s to your success!