Leadership and…the Cascade Stress Effect

 

 

 

The Toxic Stress of Controlling Leadership

If we use fear-based leadership, bullying, command-and-control leadership, belittling, sabotage or other forms of psychological violence, or allow them to be used by others in our organizations, we create the opposite of a supportive, productive learning organization. We create an environment of toxic stress that harms people and the organization.

Controlling leadership behaviors set off a cascade effect in organizations that looks like this:

  • We create a toxic, constantly stressful environment
  • which reduces people’s ability to learn and remember
  • and think creatively.
  • We get fear-based compliance
  • without engagement
  • which leaves people not doing their best work.
  • We get a low-trust culture
  • which leads to
  • people spending time worrying
  • individually and in groups.
  • We get poor individual
  • and group performance
  • and poor business outcomes.
  • We reduce the capacity of the business
  • to accomplish its mission
  • through people.
Detailed research about the impact of stress on health, the brain, learning, memory and performance may be found at many websites including the following:
Articles explaining the negative effects of controlling leadership on the organization include:

Center for Creative Leadership white paper exploring the impact of workplace stress on leaders: StressofLeadership.pdf

Visit the Leading in Context® Digital Store for eBooks, training modules, discussion guides and graphics supporting ethical business leadership. 
Linda Fisher Thornton is Owner of Leading in Context LLC, a consulting firm helping business leaders lead responsibly in a complex world.  She is also Adjunct Assistant Professor of Leadership for the University of Richmond School of Continuing Studies.

About Linda Fisher Thornton
Author of 7 Lenses, Speaker, Bringing Out the Best in People and Organizations Through Proactive Ethical Leadership, CEO Leading in Context, 2014 Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior, Adj. Assist. Prof. of Ethics and Leadership, UR SPCS

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