Recently, the term “toxic leadership” has broken into mainstream culture. Where it used to mainly occupy wardrooms, ready rooms, and professional journals, it’s now entered the lexicon of pop psychology and management consultants. The military, to its credit, has devoted much time and energy to the study of leadership, probably much more than the civilian world. It has been trying to address the toxic leadership problem for years, with little success.
A great deal of time and effort has been spent by military leaders trying to seek out and prevent horrible command climates. The term often used is “toxic.” Time and effort is spent on sexual harassment and equal opportunity training, suicide awareness, and risk management in order to demonstrate that unit leaders “are doing something” and care about their soldiers.
During my time in service, I encountered several types of leaders. Some were good, some weren’t so fun to work for, and some were absolutely incredible. Every veteran can recall one or two significant leaders who they would follow into a firefight no matter when, where, or what the odds, based solely on their strong and principled leadership.