In the last few months I have been watching a phenomenon unfold that I find fascinating. My leadership coaching work and the nature of our relationships with most of our recruiting clients means I get to know a handful of business leaders pretty well. Most would probably say I am in their kitchen. And, in some cases, they are in mine as well.

In regular check-ins I always ask how things are going on the home front, with many still adjusting to the disjointed workflow. Most have settled into a new rhythm and many appreciate the newfound increased efficiency of plugging away at a desk in the basement. The surprise has been the amount of business leaders, primarily fathers, who have realized how little time they spent with their children prior to the onset of covid-19.

by Matt Thomas

Last week we laid out four types of healthy organizational cultures. This week we’re going to hit on the other side of the spectrum, the four types of toxic cultures. In our contracts, we reserve the right to cancel an engagement in the first 30 days. The reason this clause exists is that on occasion while executing a culture assessment we surface significant dysfunction or toxicity that we believe we will not be able to overcome. In short, it is impossible for us to recruit with integrity if the organization we are recruiting for is ultimately a toxic environment. If we aren’t excited about the opportunity, then we can’t sell it. It is that simple. 

In some of our strategy and leadership engagements we have been brought in to identify the source of the toxicity and help the client lay out a path towards health. While toxicity can exist at every level of an organization it is no surprise that it is most detrimental at the leadership level. It is impossible for an organization to be a healthy vibrant place to work if the leadership is dysfunctional. Here are four types of toxic cultures: