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The Impact of Destructive Leadership Behaviors on Organizational Success

Updated: Apr 3



Every organization has its challenges that often lead to employee dissatisfaction. The effects of employee frustrations can be extensive and impact small to large organizations equally. These frustrations were evident in one organization where I consulted, which I will call Team Orange. Three of the main challenges I saw in this company were:

  1. Unhealthy expression of emotions

  2. The Halo Effect

  3. Culture-Quality

Employee dissatisfaction at Team Orange stems from a disconnect between management and staff, a rift that grows wider yearly. Employees often reflect that the company feels that it owns them. This may result from being asked to work long hours, including evenings and weekends, translating to an unhealthy work-life balance.


“On Friday, they asked me to be on-site for an implementation on Saturday,” one employee complained. “They have not considered that I have a family or may have already made plans for my weekend. I am expected to drop everything and be here”.


This feeling is pervasive throughout the organization, especially within the technology department. I surveyed employees from other departments, and the results revealed feelings ranging from mistrust of management to fear of losing their jobs if they spoke up or expressed discontent. Some people in both groups have in common the perception that they are treated unfairly and are not well-liked by their managers and peers.


Because of the corporate culture at Team Orange, employees have an “us or them” mentality. This cultural fracture caused numerous little cliques to spring up. Competition between groups to gain recognition from management and peers is sometimes fierce, creating distrust among the employee population. There have been recorded instances of harsh exchange of words between staff, open castigation, and some people feeling ostracized.


These are the ones who prefer to maintain a low profile and say as little as possible out of fear of what may or may not get back to management. Also, employees feel they are not respected, and their opinions are not valued. They have no input in the decision-making process; several people have said they feel like drones or slaves, just doing what they are told and asking no questions or providing input.


The top 10 contributors to employee dissatisfaction, from my own observations and research, are:

  1. Company Policy

  2. Poor Leadership

  3. Relationship with Leadership

  4. Poor peer relationships

  5. Work conditions (work-life balance)

  6. Salary

  7. Feeling unempowered and unappreciated

  8. Limited advancement opportunities

  9. Lack of inclusion (inequities)

  10. Lack of purpose or meaningless work

I noticed several of these contributors to dissatisfaction at Team Orange that have undoubtedly ballooned into employee retention issues. These issues are problematic for the organization because the employees are not engaged or committed, so every year after the bonuses are paid, there is usually a mass exodus. The bottom line is that employees will leave if they don’t feel valued. The high turnover ratio translates to increased spending for the company because the cost of replacing an employee could be six to nine times their salary.


The price tag to replace employees vary, but according to 2020 data, it costs on average $30,000 to $45,000 in recruiting and training expenses to replace an employee with a $60,000 salary. (Mehrar, 2020) Leadership will need to spend time and money finding replacements for the departed employees and training new employees, decreasing productivity. Team Orange is unique in that, despite poor employee survey results every year, they continue to make record profits.


Canada’s cultural diversity is widely represented in non-management positions within the organization; however, that is not reflected in more senior roles. Some of the cliques mentioned above are formed from various cultural or religious groups.


Leadership at Team Orange must be mindful of the different personality traits in these groups. They must also be more in tune with their employees’ locus of control to manage them effectively. The key to inclusion is understanding who your employees are. Leadership is now tasked with creating an environment where people can be authentic and where their values, unique talents, and perspectives are recognized and appreciated. This is the first step in shifting the pervading culture and decreasing the outflow of their top talent.


My friends and I discuss the topic of representation and inclusion in this replay of my virtual book launch on January 19, 2021.


Get your copy of my latest book, Self-Perception in Gender Inequities and Career Advancement for Minority Women, at Amazon.ca and Amazon.com.

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