The Allure of Toxic Leaders: Why We Follow Destructive Bosses and Corrupt Politicians: and How We Can Survive Them

  • 6h 26m
  • Jean Lipman-Blumen
  • Oxford University Press (US)
  • 2005

Toxic leaders, both political, like Slobodan Milosevic, and corporate, like Enron's Ken Lay, have always been with us, and many books have been written to explain what makes them tick. Here leadership scholar Jean Lipman-Blumen explains what makes the followers tick, exploring why people will tolerate--and remain loyal to--leaders who are destructive to their organizations, their employees, or their nations.

Why do we knowingly follow, seldom unseat, frequently prefer, and sometimes even create toxic leaders? Lipman-Blumen argues that these leaders appeal to our deepest needs, playing on our anxieties and fears, on our yearnings for security, high self-esteem, and significance, and on our desire for noble enterprises and immortality. She also explores how followers inadvertently keep themselves in line by a set of insidious control myths that they internalize. For example, the belief that the leader must necessarily be in a position to "know more" than the followers often stills their objections. In addition, outside forces--such as economic depressions, political upheavals, or a crisis in a company--can increase our anxiety and our longing for charismatic leaders. Lipman-Blumen shows how followers can learn critical lessons for the future and survive in the meantime. She discusses how to confront, reform, undermine, blow the whistle on, or oust a toxic leader. And she suggests how we can diminish our need for strong leaders, identify "reluctant leaders" among competent followers, and even nurture the leader within ourselves.

Toxic leaders charm, manipulate, mistreat, weaken, and ultimately devastate their followers. The Allure of Toxic Leaders tells us how to recognize these leaders before it's too late.

About the Author

Jean Lipman-Blumen is Professor of Public Policy and of Organizational Behavior at Claremont Graduate University, California and a co-founding director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Leadership. Her books include the award-winning Hot Groups: Seeding Them, Feeding Them, and Using Them to Ignite Your Organization and Connective Leadership: Managing in a Changing World, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

In this Book

  • Toxic Leaders: They're Plentiful
  • Within Ourselves: Psychological Needs That Make Us Seek Leaders
  • Deeper Within Ourselves: Angst and Illusions About Life, Death, and Immortality
  • A World of Uncertainties and Change; A World of Certainties and Stability
  • Leadership in Crisis: The Dangers of Creating God
  • An Unfinished and Unfinishable World: Self-Esteem, the Achievement Ethic, and the Call to Heroism
  • Rationalizations and Control Myths: Keeping Toxic Leaders in Power
  • Pushing Nontoxic Leaders Over the Line
  • The Odd Couple: The Media and Boards of Directors
  • Is There Any Silver Lining? Can Any Good Come from Tolerating a Toxic Leader?
  • What Are Our Choices? How Can We Deal with Toxic Leaders?
  • Detecting the Early Signs of Toxicity in Leaders and Their Noble Visions
  • Freeing Ourselves from Toxic Leaders: Nurturing Reluctant Leaders and Finding the Leader Within