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The Reason Why You Should Let Toxic Leaders Win



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Have you ever had to suffer under a toxic leader in a business setting? You know, the one who puts their individual interests ahead of the company or organization they serve? Of course, toxic leaders don’t come equipped with a warning label. They are usually hidden under smiles and friendliness. But it rarely takes long for that feeling in your gut that something isn’t right to be justified.

Oftentimes, you figure this out when what you thought was straightforward turns out not to be, or when you’re told something you later learn was a lie. The problem with toxic leaders isn’t just that they are poisonous to the culture around them, it’s that they are typically very good strategists. Toxic leaders might be bullies, but schoolyard strategies don’t work.

When I was in grade school, I was a scrawny kid. I learned to deal with bullies at an early age. Once, our local newspaper snapped a photo of me in karate class. It was a great photo of a small, skinny kid in full kick. But when the paper ran it, suddenly all the school bullies decided to test their skills on me. At that time, my best strategy was to be fast. I vividly remember a particularly large kid yelling, “Hold still so I can hit you!” Really?

“Don’t let bad people turn you anti-social. Just become anti-jerks.” – Karen Salmansohn

As an adult, it isn’t in me to give in to bullies. When someone is misrepresenting themselves or lying at the expense of others, it ignites every feeling of wanting to create justice in an unjust situation. Initially, when dealing with toxic leaders in my career, I followed the same strategy that has worked as a kid. I worked fast to out-maneuver them.

They lied, I told the truth. They did backdoor campaigning, I immediately spoke openly. They misrepresented facts, my fact checks were rapid and came with backup. They got rid of impediments to their rule, I stood up for people who were being ousted unfairly. The thing is, it’s exhausting. There is great personal cost because it takes all of your energy.

And often when everything was finished, the results were exactly the same as if I had done nothing. Toxic people get to leadership roles because they are good at strategy. And I found that I often underestimated just how far they were willing to go to get what they wanted.

Will you cross your own personal lines to win the game?

Stephen Covey shared in his book, The Speed of Trust: “When keeping your commitment becomes hard, you have two choices: You can change your behavior to match your commitment, or you can lower your values to match your behavior.”

I found that in dealing with toxic leadership, the question I had to ask myself wasn’t: “What happens if they win?” Instead, it was “Who do I want to be?” I could be someone who became consumed with winning, or I could drop the rope and end the game of tug of war.

This willingness to let go is one of the hardest things to do, because you don’t know what will happen to the company, group, or organization you love. Toxic is a synonym for poison, and make no mistake, poison has one function. Perhaps, you stay in too long and get consumed with angst trying to patch up the collateral damage that toxic leaders create in their wake.

So, how do you know when it’s time to drop the rope?

The timing gets clear, when you look inside. There is always a moment when staying will require you to cross a personal line. When you get to the point where the only move is one that will compromise your integrity, you’ll know you’re done.

You wave the white flag and pack your bags. You leave, giving up whatever it is that you’ve built that you’ve been so afraid to lose. It’s the counter-intuitive move to let the toxic leader win that is the very thing which creates positive motion.

And often, there is great personal cost to make that move. But here’s the thing, that’s only in the short term. Toxic leaders always make the same mistake that costs them in the end; and it’s inherent in the nature of the toxicity itself.

Healthy leadership focuses on the people they are leading. They look at the impact of their decisions on others. They build people up, and engender loyalty which results in influence. The focus of toxic leadership is on themselves. They go for ego-based wins not realizing that those short-term wins lose them followers. Leverage gets mistaken for loyalty.

The myopia causes toxic leaders to miss that they don’t have a following. In fact, it often produces deep frustration for them because they don’t understand why their actions don’t create momentum. The surprising reality is that toxic people don’t think they are toxic. Most are genuinely astounded—not to mention defensive—when confronted with their toxicity.

“Over time, you start noticing that some people just aren’t worth it anymore.”

The win you get from letting go

You can’t win the “you’re toxic” argument. Evidence doesn’t work because they won’t believe it. Not only that, but they enjoy the fight because they believe they are fighting a just cause in protecting themselves. You can’t bank on their empathy for those they are leading. It doesn’t exist.

Toxic leaders enjoy the fight, and no amount of strategy will allow you to protect yourself (or your reputation) against someone who doesn’t act with integrity. So don’t. Let the toxic leader win. If you stay too long, your creative energy is drained in the conflict—and often the results are the same as if you’d left earlier. Go use that energy to build something life-giving somewhere else. Besides, you can afford the short-term loss. The win is in protecting your integrity by not playing the game.

How do you deal with toxic people? Share your advice in the comments below!

Craig Janssen is an expert in design for spaces where thousands come together to share an experience.  As an international facility strategist serving architects, venue owners, and developers, Craig leads Idibri—a multidisciplinary team of technology designers, acousticians, and theatre planners. Check out Craig’s TEDx talk, Will Future Generations Want What We Build?

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Success Advice

How Your Beliefs Can Supercharge or Sabotage Your Success

Your life is dictated by beliefs and biases that drive your thinking, behaviors, and decisions



Your Beliefs Can Supercharge or Sabotage Your Success (1)
Image Credit: Midjourney

Pause for a moment and ponder two pandemic-era beliefs: First, closing schools will control the spread of a serious virus. Second, the consequences of such school closures—particularly social interruption and the prevention of immunity—are worse than becoming sick with the virus. (more…)

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How to Break the Cycles of Mediocrity and Manifest Your Greatness

There is no greatness without becoming and there is no becoming with authenticity



Image Credit: Midjourney

In just a few weeks, we will be wrapping up 2023. Can you believe it? This year has been absolutely incredible for me.

I have seen amazing doors opened, new relationships formed and I am seeing dreams realized in my life. While this seems like the hallmarks of a great year, this has also been the most challenging year of my life. With all of the change happening in my life, I have been forced out of my comfort zone and challenged to grow in every area of my life.

I can truly say that I have made the most of my moments this year and I have used everything as a catalyst for maximizing my greatest potential.

As a revolutionary leader, I have the pleasure of consulting and advising leaders around the world to fulfill purpose, realize their greatest potential and make an impact.

I want to share some insights with you that will help you to break cycles of mediocrity and manifest your greatness

Everything legal must come through the matrix

I am sure that some of you are wondering why I am using the term matrix. However, what you have to understand is that I am trying to make a highly complex spiritual principle practical to understand.

Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, every life has an origin and I believe that origin is divine and begins with eternity. You are birthed from eternity and into time to fulfill a unique purpose and assignment in your lifetime and generation.

The matrix is simply the portal or vehicle that brings something out of the invisible realm and into tangible form. The problem with much of the teaching today is that it excludes the matrix. We are told to believe that success is instantaneous and overnight.

Nobody talks about how a dream progresses through stages beginning with visualization and ultimately culminating in manifestation. Without a matrix or portal then everything that you attempt to birth and build will be illegal.

The matrix not only makes you legal but it gives you the authority and power to function as the greatest expression of who you were created to be. 

Every matrix has an incubation process

While many people admire and respect me today, I remember a time when nobody knew who I was or the significance of my message. How did I get to where I am today? I got here through an incubation process.

In other words, everything that has been destined for your life is incubating and awaiting a set time of manifestation. The problem is that most people live their entire lives idle and never initiate the incubation process.

What do I meany by that? Most people are living reckless and very few people are living intentionally. I am amazed at the number of people I have conversations with that have no vision, goals or strategies for their lives. They show great promise and they have undeniable potential.

However, without development they will die with their dreams still in them.

Everything that has been destined for your life must be incubated and converted to become realities born to time. 

“Visualize this thing that you want, see it, feel it, believe in it. Make your mental blueprint and begin to build.” – Robert Collier

You must give expression to that which is not yet born to time

When you think about a matrix or a prophetic incubation process, you have to understand that potential is often unrealized and untapped. In other words, your potential is in raw form and your potential cannot serve you as long as it is untapped.

The thing that makes me valuable is that I have the ability to convert potential into power. I have done it in my own life and I have empowered leaders around the world to do the same. How do you convert potential into power?

First, it is important to note that you have to perceive potential. If you cannot perceive your potential then you can never cultivate your potential. In addition, you must take the time to cultivate your potential. We often get excited about our capabilities; however, we never expand our capacity in order to realize our greatest potential.

In other words, the strength of your potential is only discovered through your willingness to stretch. The more we are challenged the more we are empowered to expand our capacity for greatness. Most of all, you must begin to express your potential. The expression of potential is different for every person.

For example, the expression of my potential is best demonstrated through the thoughts, ideas, products, services, books, etc.

For another person the expression of potential may look like a screenplay, artwork, sports, scientific discoveries, medical breakthroughs, etc.

Regardless of the form of expression, I know that you will live empty and unfulfilled until you make the decision to express your potential. The expression of your potential gives voice to your dreams, life to your vision, significance to your moments and activates your true power.

You must manifest your greatness

As a revolutionary thinker and leader, my work has impacted people around the world. I am grateful that my life is a source of empowerment to so many people. However, before anyone could ever benefit from my life, I had to make a non-negotiable decision to become who I was born to be.

I wish I could tell you that this journey is easy and that you will get there overnight. However, in a world that celebrates us for doing we are often criticized for being. As a result, I wasted a lot of time trying to be who other people wanted me to be instead of being who I was born to be.

There is no greatness without becoming and there is no becoming with authenticity. It is through our bravery to be vulnerable that we ultimately manifest our greatness. We do not bless the world by being a duplicate. We bless the world when we honor our difference. When you honor your difference you honor your potential.

Ultimately, your difference is how you manifest your greatness.

When you present anything but your authentic self to the world, you are playing small and you are robbing the world of your significance. Manifesting your greatness requires you to master your gifts.

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Success Advice

Here’s a Young Man’s Antidote for the Uncertainty of the Modern World

Why do a lot of young guys lack confidence in today’s world? 



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Success Advice

Toxic Leadership: 5 Ways to Identify a Bad Leader

if you have a leader who displays any of the toxic traits, it’s time to move on to greener pastures.



Toxic leadership
Image Credit: Midjourney

Let’s be honest, we’ve all crossed paths with a toxic leader in our careers at some point. Unfortunately, while some toxic leaders don’t even bother to hide their behaviour, some know very well how to conceal their true selves behind a strong-built facade. The latter is the most dangerous of the two. (more…)

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