The Toxic Personality – Base of Power

21-12-2009 | steve | Uncategorized |

As we continue to explore the impacts of a toxic personality, we need to determine what gives them the strength to affect others and the environment around them. These people are a daunting force and leverage any and all enablers around them to build their “base of power”.

In my past, as a leader I ignored the BADhaviours and BADitutes in favour of productivity. Contrary to popular assumption, that people will not put up with this type of BADhaviour, I DID (and those on our team as well) and continued to for a long time. WHY?  Because Bob (not his real name) was very good at his job. He was smart! He was productive! Surely we could cut him slack, right?

Eventually Bob moved on. What a sense of relief for the team! But I always wondered why I accepted or worse yet, condoned his behaviours.

In Bob’s case, I turned a blind eye to his conduct because I deferred to his expertise and work ability.  And as the new manager in the department, I leaned on him as a trusted resource. I became a guardian of his style, and refused to hear other voices saying otherwise.

This story highlights how skilled a toxic personality is at surviving (and even thriving) and can be quite skilled at their craft even with a light shining on them.  The BADhaviours and BADitudes persisted because Bob had an ally – ME. Thus I learned how Bob extended his base of power first hand.

Here are three enablers that strengthen Bob’s base of power.  A combination that reinforced toxic behaviours and made it more difficult to deal with the problem:

1) A positive or favorable relationship with the leader (the guardian)

2) Leadership or team endorsement of expertise, tenure or position

3) Positive recognition of productivity levels

These are positive traits in most situations, but in the hands of a toxic personality they become tools to protect or advance their position and agenda.

Thinking of your workplace, have you seen this type of manipulation? And if YES, does it continue because of their base of power?  I will be exploring how to counter this in future blogs. I would be keenly interested in hearing your story and what  tactics you implemented to lessen their base of power?

Until then,

Create a great day!

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