A major U.S. Army survey of leadership and morale found that more than 80 percent of Army officers and sergeants had directly observed a “toxic” leader in the last year and that about 20 percent of the respondents said that they had worked directly for one.
The survey of about 22,000 Army leaders was conducted by the Center for Army Leadership and comes during a year when the Army has removed or discipline three brigade commanders who were en route to, or returning from war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. Selection to command a combat brigade, which consists of about 5,000 soldiers and is commanded by a colonel, is highly competitive in the Army.
I’ve worked for some toxic leaders in my time. Some were tyrannical, and others simply were incapable of making a decision. Oddly, the wishy-washy unable-to-decide types were worse.
And while I have only the slightest combat experience, my impression is that toxic leadership really seems to impact troops more in a garrison environment. At least in combat, you’re usually spread out enough that you aren’t under the leadership’s microscope very often.
There’s good news in the article. 97% of the troops surveyed noted they’d observed outstanding leadership. The question is, are those leaders leaving the service and moving to greener pastures? Or is the Army doing a good job of identifying them and grooming them for future roles?