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Military Leadership: Great or Toxic Essay

Leadership is a responsibility that many people would like to be given. It enables one to prove to other that he or she is capable of positively influencing organizational vision. Many people join organizations at junior positions but all aspire to rise through the ranks and become the bosses one day. However, not every person who is a leader is a good example to the juniors. In the military for example, discipline and loyalty are very vital. Subordinates are supposed to take orders from their seniors without objection. In most circumstances, whatever the person in command says is taken to be the correct mode of action.

Unfortunately, this kind of organizational climate is capable of encouraging leaders who totally disregard views or even the welfare of their juniors and just give instructions. Most military leaders expect that all instructions they give out will be followed to the latter without complains. It is, however, important to note that there have been great military leaders who not only inspired, but also guided their subordinates in their career development. Given all these facts, the question that many people ask themselves is whether military leadership is great or toxic.

Organizational success is highly dependent on the kind of leadership that is exercised. Juniors need to be motivated to work especially in the military where work involves putting one’s life on the line. On the same note, young leaders will most certainly copy the leadership styles that their leaders are using. In this regard, it is important for any organization to ensure that good leadership styles always prevail in any situation. Various qualities can be used to identify a good leader. To begin with, a good leader should be honest not only to the management but also to subordinates.

Whenever giving instructions, sincerity should be the guiding principal (Sue, 2010). It will not be helpful for a leader to give information that is not correct to the juniors. The moment subordinates realize that they have been given wrong information, they will definitely lose confidence in the leadership of the organization and these will greatly hinder success of the organization. Therefore, any leader should exude highest degree of integrity so as to lead his or her juniors in the right direction.

Moreover, it should be noted that juniors take their leaders to be capable people who have the ability of satisfactorily solving most issues that come up. In order to solve problems in any scenario, it has been depicted that emotional stability is important. Therefore, leaders are supposed to be competent people who are up to task with their responsibilities. Moral principals should be their guiding factors whenever they carry out any action (Aluya, 2009). On the same note, they should tackle various issues based on reason while keeping their emotions and feelings under control.

As it has been outlined in many studies, leaders are ambassadors of their organizations. They should have organizational progress and visions in their hearts. Consequently, goals and visions of a good leader should be in line with the visions of the organization as a whole. Long term achievement as opposed to short term goals, should be their priority. This will help the organization to succeed in future and remain relevant even after one has left. Furthermore, leaders should ensure that the goals they set do not meet resistance from their subordinates because this will mean that achieving them will become a tall order. Visions that are owned by everybody in the organization will most likely lead to success of the organization.

Arguably, the most important quality of good leader is having the ability of inspiring subordinates. In times of crisis, juniors expect the leaders to lead by example. Leaders should be able to exhibit confidence in any activity that they undertake. Most importantly, good leaders should be able to display endurance not only mental and physical stamina but also spiritually (Duffy & Sperry, 2012). Subordinates especially in the military will be more willing to persevere through tough times if their leaders give them a reason to do so. This can only be achieved if leaders are able to show their juniors that they believe in the steps they take. In this regard, strong personal will in any venture that a leader takes is crucial.

Notably, all people need to feel valued in order to give their maximum input in any organization. As a result, good leaders should be able to make their juniors have a sense of self worthiness. This can only be achieved if leaders value the input of their subordinates and invite their contribution in certain issues that affect the organization. Making junior staff feel wanted makes them confident to be identified as part of the team and this increases their contribution to the team.

On the same note, it increases the morale of juniors and encourages hard work among them. Besides, valuing subordinates increases their trust in the leadership style used thus encouraging unity of ideas. Moreover, by encouraging juniors to contribute in various issues, the leader will be able to encourage creativity and ingenuity among team members (Sue, 2010). This will in the end help in talent development as well as teaching juniors on becoming self reliant.

Regrettably, these qualities are not always held by the people who are chosen to lead various institutions and groups. Due to the fact that there are different criteria of promoting an individual in various organizations, different qualities are given priority. However, the crux of the matter remains that leadership style used is very crucial in determining not only effectiveness but also climate of an organization. Military has a different kind of leadership which is highly dependent on authority from above.

This type of climate is very conducive for growth of toxic leaders. Most military leaders want their orders to be executed without delay. It is a rule in the military that seniors are always seniors and therefore everything they say is right. Juniors are taught to execute orders without complaining (Thompson, 2013). In many instances, there are not mechanisms put in place through which an individual especially juniors can register their dissatisfaction in the way they are treated.

On the same note, there is segregation in the way individuals are treated. While juniors undergo through tough and high handed leadership, the strictness reduces as one rises through the ranks. This has made senior officers to think that abuse and bullying is rite of passage that one has to go through in order to qualify as a soldier. The culture of military propagates leaders who are totalitarians and believe that juniors do not have anything to contribute. These leaders always end up doing everything in a team and all the subordinates have to do is follow the instructions as given. Though every required mission is accomplished according to requirements, long the only person who contributes is the leader (Aluya, 2009).

The main aim of military is to win the war and this is insisted in any event that is held. Nevertheless, when a war is worn, rarely do the juniors get recognized. The seniors in the battalion take all the credit for a job well done. This makes the leaders to develop a character where they assume that they own the group. As a result, they take actions assuming they know everything and require no input from the group members. In the short run, everything might seem to be correct with this type of leadership but long run repercussions will prove otherwise. This type of environment is very conducive for development of toxic tendencies.

Toxic leaders have been defined as people who usually abuse the power bestowed on their offices. Moreover, they mistreat their subordinates in order to achieve their egocentric needs. This people value their career than they do the progress of the organization. They get self satisfaction whenever their goals are met. It should be noted that in many instances these goals are not in tandem with the goals and visions of the organization (Thompson, 2013). These leaders are therefore blinded by their short vision and just aim at getting the short term goals met while disregarding long term organization vision.

Toxic leaders have also been depicted as incompetent people who are not capable of managing the responsibilities they are given. To cover up for this deficiency, toxic leaders always become arrogant to their subordinates especially if one becomes too inquisitive about how various actions are taken. This is meant to instill fear in their juniors and reduce the probability of their weakness being exposed. This is a characteristic developed to get somebody to blame whenever something goes wrong. Consequently, toxic leaders do not believe that they can make mistakes and are therefore not ready to take the blame whenever anything goes wrong (Duffy & Sperry, 2012).

Another characteristic of toxic leaders is boosting of their knowledge of being able to solve any problem they encounter in the course of their functions. They are all knowing people who do not accept advice from others except their seniors. As a result, they criticize actions taken by other staff members while pointing out how well they would have done if they were given the responsibility. Because of the belief that they are the most experienced for any situation, toxic leaders exercise a mechanically rigid kind of leadership where everything has to be done their way. They are not ready to learn any new methods of accomplishing tasks and usually use age old ideas (Sue, 2010).

Due to the inflexibility in their leadership styles, toxic leaders result to coercive methods of governance. As a result, they become both physically and psychologically bullying to their juniors. They force their juniors to do what they think is supposed to be done in any situation. However, since they is bound to be resistance from members of the group regarding various actions, toxic leaders use divide and rule strategy on their juniors.

An individual either agrees with everything they say and have peace with the leaders or oppose them and have it rough. To get what they want done, toxic leaders quite often result to disciplinary measures. Nonetheless, it should be noted that these leaders misuse and abuse the disciplinary systems. This is because most of the people punished usually do not really deserve to be punished (Aluya, 2009). On the same note, the leaders use the disciplinary system as a tool of ensuring that only their word rules the day.

Arguably, the egocentric behaviors of toxic leaders do not allow them to have any positive impact on their subordinates. As a result, welfare of juniors is not among the priorities of toxic leaders. Therefore, they seldom care about teaching their subordinates on how to accomplish various tasks. Their main aim is to remain the only people who give orders. Consequently, they do not mentor their subordinates or even help them in their career development. Even in cases where toxic leaders choose to give credit to their juniors they are very discriminatory giving credit to the loyal juniors instead of the hardworking (Thompson, 2013). Above all, toxic leaders are aggressive and intemperate.

Notably, characteristics of toxic leadership are not as bad as the results of the leadership style. Toxic leadership ends up costing the organization so much that it can even lead to total failure of the organization. Because of the high handedness of the seniors when handling their juniors, juniors become cautious of any action or even contribution they make. As a result, juniors are not encouraged to think on their own and positively contribute to the benefit of the organization. Consequently, innovativeness among junior staff members is killed. Moreover, in an organization where toxic leadership prevails the probability of promoting the wrong crop of leaders is high. This is because in many instances the criteria used to identify who is to be promoted is based on short term results. Furthermore, many people choose to quit or remain silent (Duffy & Sperry, 2012).

On the same note, team members are not encouraged to talk or contribute and if they do so their contribution is not taken into consideration. This discourages the spirit of teamwork which requires members to work without discrimination. Members will not be willing to work together as a team when they will not be recognized in any way. This also leads to demoralization where juniors just do what they are told to do just because it has been said and not because they are willing to do it. This is catastrophic especially to military troops. It should be noted that moral encouragement is very crucial in ensuring that people maximize their input in any activity they undertake (Sue, 2010).

Notably, for people to work well their conditions of work must be conducive. In this regard, personal needs of every member of staff should be satisfied. However, toxic leadership leads to a reduction of all forms of satisfaction. As a result, members reduce their contribution to the organization. Similarly, the way toxic leaders handle their juniors is cruel and it makes them loose their self worthiness. This breeds a group of people who are emotionally tormented and not committed to the success of the organization.

Toxic leadership reflects an apparent lack of concern for the welfare of the subordinates. The leaders pass the blame of their incompetence to their juniors and aim their venom at the people under them. Every situation requires a specific intervention that suits it. Unfortunately, toxic leaders do not apply the right measures when dealing with each situation. A good leader should be able to identify the needs of his or her subordinates and use the right strategy in dealing with them. So long as juniors are well handled, the organization will succeed. Nevertheless, in a toxic leadership scenario, organization vision always come second after personal goals thus making it difficult for organizational goals to be achieved (Thompson, 2013).

Toxic leaders are a reality in our society and especially the military sector. The problem is that people in society and various organizations tolerate toxic behaviors which make them to prosper. Others change to accommodate the toxic behaviors or even protect toxic leaders. In this regard, toxic leadership styles exist in the society because people allow the styles to prevail. Moreover, senior management or leaders do not pay attention to the leadership styles used by their juniors or they are sometimes simply ignorant of the problem. As a result, the behavior has found it easy to thrive in organizations (Duffy & Sperry, 2012). As it has been noted before, toxic leadership is poisonous to an organization and increases the probability of employee turnover.

In the military, there are no honest evaluation mechanisms that will enable the right people to be promoted. On the contrary, the systems of promotion that are in place encourage mostly promotion of unqualified people into positions of leadership. The sector lacks moral encouragement as regards promotion of officers. It should be noted that the United States has the best army in the world. Our army is the best equipped and has been able to win several battles. However, human capital is not like other inputs used by organizations. Human beings are not made of various components which can be changed in case one part is spoilt. Therefore, great care should be taken because when a mistake is done the organization highly looses (Aluya, 2009).

It is important to teach our soldiers how to know when the team is healthy or unhealthy. In case the team starts to disintegrate, leaders should be able to discover in advance and take the necessary actions. During training, leadership lessons should be offered to ensure good leadership skills are instilled to staff members. On the same note, leaders should be taught that short term accomplishments is peripheral compared to long term success of the organization and professional development of troops. Though military leadership is good in certain instances, it encourages toxic leaders. Therefore, measures should be taken to ensure that toxic tendencies are curtailed because of the negative effects that toxic leadership has.


Aluya, J. (2009). Complexity of Leadership, Organizations and the Real Estate Industry: Disrupting Existing Systems. Bloomington: AuthorHouse.

Duffy, M. P. & Sperry, L. (2012). Mobbing: Causes, Consequences, and Solutions. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Sue, M. P. (2010). Toxic People: Decontaminate Difficult People at Work Without Using Weapons or Duct Tape. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.

Thompson, M. (2013). Why Can’t The U.S. Military Grow Better Leaders? Time. Web.

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Mandar1n. "Military Leadership: Great or Toxic." IvyPanda, 23 May 2020,

1. Mandar1n. "Military Leadership: Great or Toxic." IvyPanda (blog), May 23, 2020.


Mandar1n. "Military Leadership: Great or Toxic." IvyPanda (blog), May 23, 2020.


Mandar1n. 2020. "Military Leadership: Great or Toxic." IvyPanda (blog), May 23, 2020.


Mandar1n. (2020) 'Military Leadership: Great or Toxic'. IvyPanda, 23 May.

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