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Toxic leaders give business the kiss of death


Organisations are 'destroying' themselves by appointing the wrong leaders and creating a culture which actively discourages engagement.

This is what professor Beverly Alimo-Metcalfe, chief executive of the Real World Group, told delegates at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development's (CIPD) annual HRD conference in London this week.

Alimo-Metcalfe, who was involved in a three-year research study which examined the link between leadership culture and the effectiveness of multi-professional teams, claimed that organisations are adopting the wrong criteria for appointing people into leadership roles.

"We are creating deadly cultures where hundreds of people are languishing – they have got the talent but the culture is preventing it from being developed," she said. "Leadership can be toxic in the hands of the wrong people; it is about humility and creating a sense of 'we' rather than 'I'."

She added that leadership is now changing direction and the focus is now on the notion of engagement: "Let's tell the UK government that 'heroic' leadership has had its day. People are now seeking self-actualisation and asking, ‘what is the sense of meaning in what I do’? The best leaders are those who create an environment for others to flourish as leaders."

Alimo-Metcalfe advised that engagement has to be sustained and a culture of engaging leadership must be embedded, through being aware that leadership and culture are inextricably linked; by creating high 'readiness' for change; and enabling people to be co-designers in the organisation


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