Many credit the success of a business with product, prices, or innovation. While all of those do play a role in whether or not a business succeeds, there’s one factor of success that tends to get left out of the equation: the potentially toxic personality traits of the entrepreneurs in charge.
Coming up with a good idea is easy. Starting a business is relatively easy as well. But getting people to back up your vision, trust your goals, and execute tasks towards a planned objective? Now that’s the real trick.
A business is no good without its teams and, with remote work becoming more accessible, people feel more mobile than ever to find a better company fit for them if toxic leadership is infringing on their quality of life. So how do you make sure that your personality qualities aren’t pushing away talent?
Read on to find out if you have any of these toxic personality traits and see if you can implement any of the suggested antidotes into your day-to-day to become a better team member and leader.
1. Low Emotional Intelligence
The definition of emotional intelligence is, ‘The capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.” Emotional intelligence is a critical ingredient for success–especially for those higher up in the ranks. It is the mechanism by which bosses and supervisors relate to their cohort and provide motivational leadership. For someone with a low EQ, communicating effectively to a group is a challenge. Understanding the needs and nuances of an individual is next to impossible. Oftentimes people with low EQ act without thinking, offend others, and damage their credibility.
If you feel like you’re lacking in emotional intelligence, a good way to improve is to ask for open and honest feedback with the initial promise to not retaliate or hold grudges. The responses may not be what you want to hear, but they’re what you need to hear.
Oftentimes people who are arrogant claim to be confident. But anyone on the receiving end of their personality can tell the difference. Arrogance infers to those around that the individual is better than them and has nothing left to learn in the situation. Confidence is a mentality of optimism and self-assuredness.
An entrepreneur who is arrogant cannot learn from their mistakes because they inherently don’t believe that they make any. Any arrogant person blames others, shirks responsibility, and will quickly fail in a leadership role.
The cure for arrogance is humility. If you feel like arrogance is one of your toxic personality traits, try to take responsibility the next time you are wrong–even if it’s a nonconsequential error. Ownership of self and autonomy can help entrepreneurs build trust and connect with their team.
3. Viewing Everything as a Zero-Sum Game
The idea that there are “winners” and “losers” is quickly becoming an outdated concept in business. This goes for team members as well as ideas. Toxic entrepreneurs will tend to see everything through the lens of wins and losers, but healthy leadership understands that there are many different ways to accomplish a task and having varied personality types on the team is a good thing.
Creating an overly competitive environment can poison a company culture and unnecessarily put co-workers against each other. To make sure you’re approaching things mindfully as an entrepreneur try shifting your focus to creating a cooperative work environment where coworkers feel inclined to work with each other and share ideas, even if they may not be what has traditionally been praised.
4. Giving in to Groupthink
Just because something has always been done the same way, doesn’t mean it should continue to be done that way. Entrepreneurs are innovative by nature but can sometimes slip into the ruts of groupthink. It’s good to second guess tradition and approach systems and habits with an air of skepticism.
According to Miranda Marquit, writer for Due and author of the blog “Avoid These 7 Toxic Business Behaviours,” questioning things a little bit is healthy: “There’s nothing wrong with looking to blaze a better pathway to the future. You won’t be a true leader if you’re always following the crowd.”
5. Keeping Favorites
Having preferences is acceptable if you’re a team member but if you’re an entrepreneurial leader, it’s one of the quickest ways to add toxicity to your team is to keep favorites. There are two types of favoritism: arbitrary favoritism and performance-based favoritism. Both can stoke resentment amongst teammates which oftentimes is taken out on the favorite.
If you’re a leader and you suspect that you’re favoriting one of the team mates, the best way to make sure you’re leading judiciously is to keep a list of praise, promotions, and covetable job opportunities. This will allow you to notice any subtleties and make sure that everyone on your team is getting due credit.
If toxicity is ignored, the consequences can be detrimental to the company culture and to the bottom line. Toxicity can be the root cause of employee turnover, burned time, conflict, and low engagement amongst team members. If you’re an entrepreneur who is seeking to grow their team and scale your company, providing a healthy, productive environment is quintessential to your growth.
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