Expand Your Mind: Toxic Corporate Culture

Expand Your Mind: Toxic Corporate Culture

Post from: MAPpingCompanySuccess

Toxic corporate culture isn’t limited to corporations; you can find it anywhere you care to look. Toxic culture doesn’t involve just one specific set of actions; rather it is a permissive atmosphere in which various negative and destructive actions are accommodated.

What happens when a leader uses a culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation to enhance results and gain good press? Exactly what happened to the Atlanta school system.

Goldman Sachs’s toxic locker room culture has been written about and condemned for years, but nothing really changes. Earlier this month a federal judge refused to reconsider Goldman Sachs’ efforts to force arbitration on the women who filed a class action suite against the firm. I hope they win the suite, but I doubt that even that will have much effect. No matter how large the damages they would be a drop in the bucket for Goldman.

I frequently hear women complain about guys hitting on them at conferences and, to be fair, I’m hearing more often from men asking how to handle unwanted advances from women. In a recent post on the subject Tim O’Reilly, whose company produces tech conferences such as Oscon, talks about the problem and states that such actions won’t be tolerated and that’s good. But the tone of the post is mild, calling actions such as stalking and unwanted sexual advances “a no-no” and saying, “If we hear that you are that guy, we will investigate, and you may be asked to leave.” MAY be asked to leave? Shouldn’t anyone proven to have acted in any of the manners mentioned be TOLD to leave and, if the actions are severe enough, barred from future events?

Any organizational culture that is permeated with “toxic leaders,” those who “put their own needs first, micro-manage subordinates, behave in a mean-spirited manner or display poor decision making” has a problem. Just ask the US Army, which is considering using 360-degree evaluations in its command selection process to weed them out.

Rather than leave you on a downer or with a bad taste in your mouth, take a look at the first article in a series from Fast Company on how good companies build positive cultures. The first example is MailChimp and includes CEO Ben Chestnut’s 5 Rules for a Creative Culture. If the rest of the series is as useful as the MailChimp example it will be well-worth following.


Flickr image credit: pedroCarvalho

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