Identifying and preventing toxic leadership in the military

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Identifyingandpreventingtoxicleadershipin themilitary

Thestyleof leadershipadoptedby thearmycommandersandotherleadersdeterminesthemoraleof thejuniorofficersandtheir determinationto fightthecountry.However,themilitaryis among thegovernmentagenciesthat experiencethelargestnumberof casesof toxicleaders.Atoxicleaderisdefinedas a destructiveleaderwhoseleadershipstyleabusesthefollower-leader relationship,which leavesthegroup’sconditionworse-off than theyfirstassumedits leadership(Ulmer 46). Althoughthebusinesscorporationsalsoexperiencethechallengesof toxicleadership,themilitary’scaseis worsebecausethistypeof leadershipcan leadto deathorlifetimeconsequences.Forexample,theincreasein thenumberof casesof suicideamong theU.S. forcesin Iraq has beenattributedto theprevalenceof toxicleadership.Thispaperwill focuson theidentificationandpreventionof toxicleadershipwith a focuson themilitary.

Identificationof toxicleadersin theorganizationis a trickyprocess.Thisisbecausesomesymptomsof thetoxicleadershipmay beattributedto differentissuesorevengoesunnoticed.However,theU.S. militaryhas establishedapracticalapproachto identifyingtoxicleaders.Thecommandclimatesurvey,which as beenprovento be successfulin theU.S. Navy is currently beingappliedin otherdefenseforces.Thesurveyinvolvesa detailedanalysisof an identifiedchallengewithin themilitaryora sectionof thearmy(Boissell21). Thesurveyshould beconductedby commanderswhoare above thecompanylevel within a givenperiod.

Theproblemof toxicleadershipin themilitaryshould beaddressedwith cautiousin orderto avoidtheriskof compromisingthecommandauthority.Thestrategiesadoptedto preventtoxicleadershipin themilitaryaimat precludingthetoxicindividualsfrom accessingtherankof colonels, whoare thecandidatesforthepositionof thegeneralofficer(Ulmer 51). Themilitarycan usetwo majorstrategiesto preventtoxicleadership.First,a systemthat facilitatesregularreportingof thefindingsof thecommandclimatesurveyshould beinstituted.Thereportingsystemshould be institutedparallelwith otherelementsincludedin thereadinesssystemandperiodcollectionof data army-wide (Ulmer 51).

Secondly,theselectionboardshould be providedwith supplemental informationthat issourcedfrom subordinates.Theprocessof sourcing informationfrom subordinateofficers,whoare thevictimsof toxicleadership,enhancesthevalidityof bottom-up flowof information(Ulmer 51). Thetop-down assessmenthas beenusedin thepastandprovento be ineffective.Aneffectiveassessmentof commandersensuresthattoxicleadersareidentifiedbefore theyare promotedorbecomethecandidatesof Divisional Command. However,theassessmentmay be hamperedby thelimitationof thedatabase that containsinformationabout theperformanceof officers.Theestablishmentof thegeneralofficersteering committeeaddressesthischallengeby guidingtheimplementation of thesystemdesignedto addresstheissueof toxicleadershipwhilepromotingthequalityof thearmycommandclimate.

Inconclusion,toxicleadershipis one of thecriticalchallengesthatthestakeholders in thedefensesectorarefacedwith. Theprevalenceof toxicleadershipin thearmyhas contributedtowards theincreasein thecasesof suicideandmentalillnesses.Toxicleaderscan beidentifiedfrom their signsof toxicity, butthecommandclimatesurveyis themosteffectiveandviable approachthat can be usedto spottoxicleaders.Asystemof reportingthefindingsof thecommandclimatesurveyshould beinstitutedinordertoensurethatthegoalsaswell as the objectivesof thesurveyare achieved.

Workscited

Boissell,J. and McDonnel, J. Darkleadership in the ranks: How the U.S. Armed Forces can addressnarcissism and toxic leadership.Chesapeake, VA: Regent University, 2012. Print.

Ulmer,F. Toxicleadership: what are talking about?Washington, DC: U.S. Army, 2012. Print.