How Leaders Become Toxic After The Infantry Units Essay

How Leaders Become Toxic After The Infantry Units Essay

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The purpose of this essay is to address how leaders become toxic after their arrival to SF units and how unit cultures or individuals either correct or contribute to that development. Toxic leaders exist in all organizations and Special Forces units are no exception. Some arrive as toxic leaders and some develop toxic leadership characteristics after joining the Regiment. The Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC) does a good job of properly evaluating those leaders who exhibit toxic qualities and either correcting those characteristics or purging those individuals from the course. Those toxic leaders that manage to complete the SFQC and join the SF Regiment, by and large, are identified quickly and through proper evaluation and counseling are corrected. On the other hand, those leaders that develop toxic leadership characteristics after their arrival to SF become much more difficult to identify, fix, or remove.
Junior officers and enlisted personnel arrive to SF units straight out of the SFQC. In nearly all instances these individuals are impressionable and seeking acceptance from their brothers in arms. When they arrive and find themselves in units that embody the Army Values they are more likely to internalize these values as their own. These leaders thrive in SF units and foster healthy working environments long into their careers.
On the contrary, when soldiers arrive to unhealthy and toxic unit cultures, they are more likely to adopt those same behaviors believing that they are the norm in SF. Contributing to the survival of toxic unit cultures is what LTG Walter F. Ulmer Jr., in his article Toxic Leadership: What Are We Talking About, describes as a military culture that values cooperation, loyalty and respect...


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...y through performance, but once established, can provide informed advice and feedback to correct toxic behavior. If unable to effect a change in a toxic leader or culture, then informing the chain of command is necessary to ensure the integrity and reputation of the Regiment are not tainted by a toxic leader inside the ranks.
Toxic leaders and unit cultures continue to plague SF units. It is most likely impossible to eliminate all toxicity given human nature. It can be lessened substantially, however, by identifying it through formal counseling, self-improvement based on the influence and advice of others, and corrective action in egregious cases, by the chain of command. There is no one way to prevent toxic leaders from developing in SF and toxic cultures do not change overnight, but setting the example and encouraging other leaders to do the same is a good start

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