Toxic culture can show up in many ways…

Lorissa-standing at desk look at computer

[Part 1 of 3]

When we think about culture, our minds often go to toxic cultures – those you have worked in before, work in currently or do your best to avoid. These are the cultures that we see and hear about in the media, across viral social posts or at the weekend BBQ as our friends reveal their horror stories.

A toxic culture can show up in many ways; a series of poor decisions and behaviours by a senior leadership team, a pattern of behaviours from a couple of rogue staff, a startup with an unhealthy amount of irresponsible confidence, passive-aggressive influencers or blame cultures that lack any accountability.

If I were to look at the 3 biggest influences of toxic cultures, my top three would be:

  1. Leadership
  2. Blind Eyes
  3. Influencers

Over the next few weeks, I am going to take you through a mini-series covering these 3 influences and sharing with you some questions that you may like to consider for each influence. 

Let’s start at the top with leadership!

I can’t emphasise enough how much impact leadership has on culture. As role models for the culture and values, poor leadership practices, suppression and bad attitudes can undo months – years – of hard work to build up good culture practices. Micro-managing, passive-aggressive behaviours, favouritism, racism, sexism (any of the ‘ism’s’ to be honest), abusive or manipulative behaviours…. I could go on!

I often talk to leaders about the leadership signals they send, the often unconscious behaviours that send their people a signal – it usually comes down to a signal to approach or avoid (I highly recommend reading this article and book by Marc Brackett, Ph.D.). It could be a constantly closed office door, signalling a lack of safe approachability. Making decisions that negatively impact certain people, or cohorts of people in the team. Perhaps it’s a diary so full and scheduled that direct reports are unable to book in time for support or mentoring. 

Some questions I might ask to challenge this toxic enabler are:

  • How are you role modelling the values – and recognising that in others?
  • What signals are being sent by you as a leader?
  • What signals are you repeatedly receiving from your people?

I would love for you to take a moment and write down your answers to the above three questions, if you feel like sharing, hit reply on this email! All responses will of course remain confidential. 

See you back here next week to explore Blind Eyes!

lorissa garcia

About Lorissa

Lorissa is a Melbourne team and leadership coach, facilitator, and people strategist.

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