We all know that it’s important to hire good leaders, but what happens when you make a poor leadership hiring decision?

Consider the effects of hiring a bad leader.

1. Firing leaders cost big bucks – The costs of executive level employees range up to three times that person’s yearly salary. Would you rather spend a couple of grand on a selection process or lose hundreds of thousands of dollars when your decision doesn’t work out?

2. Team performance tanks – Employee productivity suffers under poor leadership. Underappreciated employees are not going to put in as much effort as someone whose work is valued. The disgruntled employee is more likely to engage in counterproductive behaviours.

3. All employee development suffers – Poor leaders fail to identify, or develop, the potential in their employees. The loss of potential is hard to price, but not difficult to see. Employees who want to better themselves can only grow so much on their own; they need a supervisor to encourage their efforts and provide the tools they need to develop.

4. Things turn toxic … quickly – Unhappy employees can soon lead to more unhappy employees. Remember one bad apple ruining the whole bunch?

5. It only takes one rotten apple – Research has shown, most people don’t quit their jobs because they dislike the work… they quit their boss. If one person leaves the company for other opportunities, others may do the same.

It’s crucial for companies to hire good leaders who make a long-term commitment to not only the organization and to the growth of their teams.

How to Prevent Toxic Leadership

If you’ve ever worked with a toxic leader, you know the warning signs of selfishness, unpredictability, and manipulation. You’re likely much more interested in how to preserve your sanity.

If you’ve ever hired a toxic person onto your leadership team, at a certain point, you will ask how the heck did they get here in the first place?

Here are some of the most effective ways to avoid hiring a toxic leader in the first place:

1. Find a selection system designed for the leadership level – Many organizations understand the importance of selection systems for their lower-level positions, but revert to a gut instinct for leadership roles.

Because assessing leadership ability is complex there is more reason to have a structured process in place. DO NOT use the same assessments you have for non-leadership roles you’re putting yourself at risk by not measuring their leadership-level traits such as delegation process, feedback style, or coaching vision even for internal hires.

2. Succession planning – Succession planning is not only just smart, but it also ensures that the employee’s learned leadership style will reflect the company’s culture and values. By preparing high potentials for future leadership roles, you’ll remove risk from the selection process.

3. Understand what’s trainable and what’s not – A good leader will have strong planning and organizing skills. But a candidate who scores low in this area on their assessment may still be a smart hire because planning skills are highly trainable.

However, a candidate with low self-awareness is a risky leadership hire, because self-awareness is largely innate and difficult to teach. Low self-awareness equals a low understanding of the perspectives of others, which leads to toxic leadership. It is wise to keep these trainability implications in mind when weighing a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses.

In a perfect world, toxic leaders would never get the chance to be in power.

But we are imperfect people, hiring imperfect people in an imperfect world, so arm yourself with the knowledge of what toxic leadership looks like, how to survive it, and how to prevent them from being hired in the first place.

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