In Part 1 of this series on toxic leadership, we considered the self-focused leader. We saw that the self (vs. other) focus of the leader creates the foundation for a toxic environment as the organization becomes a way to meet the needs of the leader over not just the followers but also the mission and purpose of the organization itself.
The autocratic leader treats others as their servants and assumes the right to exercise power and privilege over them. This self-focus creates the toxic atmosphere that causes workers to walk on eggshells and know that they are not respected or appreciated by their leader. The worker becomes a means to an end and is a tool to be used vs. a partner to work with.
This misconception is based on the false belief that servant leaders do not exercise power. They do, but they exercise it differently than other leaders. The term Autocratic comes from two Greek terms, autos means self and kratos means power. It is a leader’s use of power to meet their own needs over those they lead. This is never an appropriate use of power in leadership.
If you have studied servant leadership in any depth, you have come across this issue of the problem of the name - Servant Leadership. The name seems contradictory, confusing and unappealing. After all, who wants to be someone’s servant? Is that a role I want to be known for?