141 KILLER Toxic Leadership Quotes (Selected)

William T Johnson Jan 13, 2023
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toxic boss

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Toxic leadership is a strain of toxic workplace behavior that can have devastating effects on the people who are exposed to it.


From destroying morale and productivity to creating an unhealthy, toxic environment for employees, toxic leadership is not something any employer or employee should ever tolerate.


Here's a comprehensive list of toxic leadership quotes from business leaders, philosophers, authors and experts on the subject to help you get started:


1. “Leadership at its worst creates fear; at best it inspires trust” - Barry Posner


2. “Toxic bosses tend to think they know everything while dismissing others’ ideas as wrong” – Robert Sutton


3. “People don’t follow positions—they follow leaders with vision and integrity” – John C Maxwell

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4. “The most toxic thing one person can do to another is pretend that their feelings don't matter" -Brené Brown


5. "A leader must be able to identify when their own ego has become toxic" - Adam Grant


6. "Toxic leaders create a culture of fear which leads to lower levels of engagement among team members" - Brigid Schulte


7 . "When someone in power uses their position to oppress others, it's toxic leadership" - Simon Sinek


8. "Toxic leaders prioritize their own interests over those of the team" - Marshall Goldsmith


9. "The most toxic thing in a relationship is when one person doesn't respect the other as an equal" - Sharon Salzberg


10. "Toxic leadership causes organizations to fall apart from the inside out" – John C Maxwell


11. “Leadership that isn’t rooted in trust and respect is toxic” – Max De Pree


12. “A toxic leader will use criticism and blame to manipulate employees” – Gary Chapman


13. “Toxic leadership stifles creativity and innovation” – Stephen R. Covey


14. “Leaders with toxic personalities create a toxic environment” – John C Maxwell


15. “The most toxic thing in any organization is when people feel their opinions don’t matter” – Jim Collins


16. “Toxic leaders are incapable of taking responsibility for their actions and decisions” – Ken Blanchard

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17. “A toxic leader will try to control every aspect of the work environment” – Dr Travis Bradberry


18. "Toxic leadership creates an atmosphere where employees are constantly looking over their shoulders" - Gary Rush


19. “Toxic bosses are toxic because they want to control the outcomes and not empower those around them” – Stephen R Covey


20. “The most toxic behavior in a leader is creating an atmosphere of fear” – John C Maxwell


21. “Leaders with toxic personalities will often belittle or intimidate their employees” – Ken Blanchard

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22. "Toxic leaders take credit for successes and blame others for failures" - Marshall Goldsmith


23. “When someone in power uses their position to oppress others, it's toxic leadership" - Simon Sinek


24. "A toxic leader can destroy morale by playing favorites among employees" - Brigid Schulte


25. "In toxic workplaces, employees become overly focused on pleasing the boss instead of working together as a team" - Gary Rush


26."Toxic leaders focus more on maintaining order than inspiring creativity" - Adam Grant


27."The most toxic thing one person can do to another is pretend that their feelings don't matter" -Brené Brown


28."When someone attempts to emotionally manipulate another person, it's a type of toxic leadership"- Sharon Salzberg


29. “Leaders who foster toxic cultures are more concerned with power than positive results” – Gary Rush


30. “Toxic bosses can create an atmosphere of distrust and insecurity among employees” - John C Maxwell


31. “The most toxic behavior in a leader is withholding information or feedback from their team" - Dr Travis Bradberry


32. "A toxic leader will discourage openness by punishing those who speak up" - Stephen R Covey


33. "Leaders with toxic personalities often make decisions that aren't in the best interest of their teams" - Marshall Goldsmith


34."Toxic leaders don't listen to others and ignore alternate perspectives" - Adam Grant

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35. "Everyone deserves respect, regardless of your position on the 'team.' Toxic leadership does not understand this concept"- Ken Blanchard


36."When someone attempts to subjugate another person without reason, it's a type of toxic leadership"- Sharon Salzberg


37. “Toxic leadership is defined by a lack of respect for human life, dignity or rights” – Max De Pree


38. "Toxic leaders will attempt to control every detail regardless of how small it is" - Adam Grant


39. “Leaders who use toxic behavior are often driven by fear and insecurity” – John C Maxwell


40. “A toxic leader disregards the feelings and opinions of others in order to get what they want”- Stephen R Covey


41."You can always recognize toxic leadership when self-interest trumps team success" - Marshall Goldsmith


42."Toxic bosses take credit for victories while shirking responsibility during failure"- Dr Travis Bradberry

43. "When someone abuses their power within an organization, it's toxic leadership" - Simon Sinek


44. "The most toxic thing one person can do to another is gaslight them into believing their feelings aren't valid" -Brené Brown


45."Leaders with toxic personalities focus more on themselves than those around them"- Ken Bl


46. “Toxic bosses have an inability to take responsibility for their actions" - Sharon Salzberg


47. "Leaders with toxic personalities often use intimidation and fear tactics when communicating with employees" - Gary Rush


48. “When one person attempts to dominate another, it's toxic leadership” – Max De Pree


49. "A toxic leader will become defensive when challenged or receives criticism from others" - Adam Grant


50. “Toxic leaders are more concerned with results than relationships” – Stephen R Covey


51. "The most toxic behavior in a leader is failing to recognize the value of those around them"- John C Maxwell


52."You can always recognize toxic leadership when team morale becomes low and turnover increases"- Marshall Goldsmith


53. "In a toxic environment, no amount of success can make up for the lack of respect and appreciation you feel"- Dr Travis Bradberry


54."Leaders who foster toxic cultures focus on controlling people instead of empowering them" - Simon Sinek

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55. "Leaders with toxic personalities are more interested in maintaining power than leading and inspiring others”—Adam Grant


56. “Toxic leaders often rely on guilt and shame to manipulate people” – Ken Blanchard


57. "Leaders with toxic personalities rarely acknowledge mistakes they have made" - Sharon Salzberg


58. “Toxic bosses expect perfection from their team, while offering negative feedback instead of constructive criticism” – Gary Rush


59. “The most toxic behavior in a leader is when they take credit for the work of their subordinates” - John C Maxwell


60. “A toxic leader will use fear tactics in order to control those around them" - Stephen R Covey


61."Leaders with toxic personalities create an unhealthy environment full of stress and anxiety"- Adam Grant


62."When someone attempts to control another person without reason, it's toxic leadership" - Marshall Goldsmith


63."You can always recognize toxic leadership when team members feel like they're not part of the larger mission"- Dr Travis Bradberry


64. "Leaders with toxic behaviors are more concerned with power than positive results" - Simon Sinek


65."The most toxic thing one person can do to another is lie about their intentions and motives"—Brené Brown


66. “Toxic leaders will rarely take responsibility for their own mistakes and often blame others” – Ken Blanchard

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67. "Leaders with toxic personalities are quick to pass judgement without considering the consequences" - Sharon Salzberg


68. “Toxic bosses will stifle creativity and squash good ideas in favor of their own” – Gary Rush


69. “The most toxic behavior in a leader is when they demand all the credit for successful outcomes” - John C Maxwell


70. “A toxic leader will use fear tactics to keep those around them from challenging their decisions" - Stephen R Covey


71."Leaders with toxic personalities create an environment that is not conducive to team morale or success"- Adam Grant

72."When someone attempts to manipulate others in order to achieve their own goals, it's toxic leadership" - Marshall Goldsmith


73."You can always recognize toxic leadership when team members feel disempowered or left out of decision-making processes"- Dr Travis Bradberry

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74."Leaders with toxic behaviors thrive on controlling people instead of inspiring them" - Simon Sinek


75."The most toxic thing one person can do to another is try and change somebody else’s reality"—Brené Brown


76. “Toxic leaders will often set unachievable goals and give little guidance as how to reach them” – Ken Blanchard


77. "Leaders with toxic personalities are often so focused on results that they neglect the importance of relationships" - Sharon Salzberg


78. “Toxic bosses rely on manipulation rather than genuine positive motivation to drive performance” – Gary Rush


79. “The most toxic behavior in a leader is when they refuse to listen to opposing viewpoints or feedback” - John C Maxwell


80. “A toxic leader will often resort to belittling, intimidating, or berating people in order to get what they want" - Stephen R Covey


81."Leaders with toxic personalities create an atmosphere where everyone around them feels overwhelmed and helpless"- Adam Grant


82."When someone attempts to bully others into submission, it's toxic leadership" - Marshall Goldsmith


83."You can always recognize toxic leadership when team members are discouraged from voicing their opinions" - Dr Travis Bradberry

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84. "Leaders with toxic behaviors focus more on control than collaboration within their teams" - Simon Sinek


85. "The most toxic thing one person can do to another is limit their agency and autonomy" —Brené Brown


86. “Toxic leaders will rarely offer praise or recognition for successful outcomes” – Ken Blanchard


87. "Leaders with toxic personalities are often authoritarian, making decisions without consulting their team" - Sharon Salzberg


88. “Toxic bosses rely on threats of punishment rather than incentives to motivate good performance” – Gary Rush


89. “The most toxic behavior in a leader is when they manipulate the facts in order to get the outcome they want” - John C Maxwell


90. “A toxic leader will often use emotional manipulation and blackmail in order to get what they want” - Stephen R Covey


91."Leaders with toxic personalities create an atmosphere where everyone around them feels disrespected and disregarded"- Adam Grant

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92."When someone attempts to control information or deny access to resources for their own benefit, it's toxic leadership" - Marshall Goldsmith


93."You can always recognize toxic leadership when team members feel like their opinions don't matter or that they're not valued" - Dr Travis Bradberry

94."Leaders with toxic behaviors are too focused on selfish goals instead of looking at the bigger picture" - Simon Sinek


95."The most toxic thing one person can do to another is treat them as expendable, replaceable, or expendable labor"—Brené Brown


96. “Toxic leaders will often withhold necessary resources or information until it benefits them in some way” – Ken Blanchard


97. "Leaders with toxic personalities don't empower those around them; instead, they make all decisions themselves" - Sharon Salzberg


98. “Toxic bosses are more concerned about meeting deadlines than fostering positive relationships among the team” – Gary Rush


99. “The most toxic behavior in a leader is when they expect others to comply without question even if it goes against their values” - John C Maxwell

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100. “A toxic leader will frequently blame others for any mistakes or failures that occur, rarely taking responsibility themselves” - Stephen R Covey


101. "Leaders with toxic personalities rarely take responsibility for their own words and actions, and instead put the blame on others" - Adam Grant


102."When someone abuses their power to bend laws or rules, it's toxic leadership" - Marshall Goldsmith


103."You can always recognize toxic leadership when team members are fearful of speaking up or don't feel comfortable voicing their opinion"- Dr Travis Bradberry

104. "Leaders with toxic behaviors operate from a place of fear and complete disregard for their employees' well-being" - Simon Sinek

105. "The most toxic thing one person can do to another is use them as a means to an end"—Brené Brown


106. “Toxic leaders will often allow toxic behavior to go unchecked, creating an unhealthy work environment” – Ken Blanchard

107. "Leaders with toxic personalities show favoritism and rarely, if ever, acknowledge the hard work of everyone around them" - Sharon Salzberg

108. “Toxic bosses prioritize short-term results over long-term performance gains” – Gary Rush


109. “The most toxic behavior in a leader is when they act without integrity just so they can appear strong and powerful" - John C Maxwell


110. “A toxic leader will often undermine others in order to gain favor or recognition” - Stephen R Covey

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111."Leaders with toxic personalities rely heavily on micromanagement instead of delegating tasks among team members"- Adam Grant


112."When someone seeks revenge on those who have blown the whistle on unethical practices, it's toxic leadership" - Marshall Goldsmith


113."You can always recognize toxic leadership when team members feel disconnected from higher level decisions or plans" - Dr Travis Bradberry


114. "Leaders with toxic behaviors focus more on themselves than developing the skills of their team members" - Simon Sinek


115. "The most toxic thing one person can do to another is withhold respect from them"—Brené Brown


116. “Toxic leaders will often ignore team members when they speak up about issues or concerns” – Ken Blanchard

117. "Leaders with toxic personalities are slow to give praise and recognition, even for a job well done" - Sharon Salzberg

118. “Toxic bosses create an atmosphere of competition among their staff instead of collaboration” – Gary Rush

119. “The most toxic behavior in a leader is when they don't keep their promises or carry through with commitments" - John C Maxwell

120. “A toxic leader will often surround themselves with people who are only interested in furthering their own agenda” - Stephen R Covey

121."Leaders with toxic personalities have a lack of empathy and disregard for the feelings of those around them"—Adam Grant

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122."When someone uses intimidation tactics to gain compliance from members at any level, it's toxic leadership" - Marshall Goldsmith


123."You can always recognize toxic leadership when team members aren't comfortable disagreeing with the leader or their decisions"- Dr Travis Bradberry


124. "Leaders with toxic behaviors show signs of arrogance, self-importance, and narcissism" - Simon Sinek                      

                                                  

125."The most toxic thing one person can do to another is take credit for their work"—Brené Brown

             

126. “Toxic leaders will often belittle team members in order to make themselves appear superior” – Ken Blanchard


127."Leaders with toxic personalities rarely if ever listen to the advice or opinions of those around them" - Sharon Salzberg


128. “Toxic bosses refuse feedback from employees, believing that they know what's best for everyone” – Gary Rush


129. “The most toxic behavior in a leader is when they manipulate circumstances to get what they want without considering the consequences" - John C Maxwell


130. “A toxic leader will often try to control the narrative by withholding information or censoring what others say” - Stephen R Covey


131."Leaders with toxic personalities often prioritize their own needs over those of the team”—Adam Grant


132."When someone tells lies or misrepresents facts to make themselves appear better, it's toxic leadership" - Marshall Goldsmith


133."You can always recognize toxic leadership when team members are afraid to voice their own opinions or ideas" - Dr Travis Bradberry


134. "Leaders with toxic behaviors often try to control their team rather than motivating them" - Simon Sinek                           

135. "The most toxic thing one person can do to another is deny them the right to be heard”—Brené Brown

136. “Toxic leaders will often use fear and intimidation tactics as a way of getting people to comply” – Ken Blanchard

137. "Leaders with toxic personalities rarely credit team members for their successes and are quick to take the credit themselves" - Sharon Salzberg

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138. “Toxic bosses demand perfection from employees, often leading to burnout” – Gary Rush

139. “The most toxic behavior in a leader is when they are quick to judge or criticize without considering other perspectives" - John C Maxwell

140. “A toxic leader will often make decisions without consulting their team” - Stephen R Covey                                                                      

141."Leaders with toxic personalities are more interested in maintaining power than leading and inspiring others”—Adam Grant

And finally: "When someone uses threats, humiliation or intimidation of any kind as an attempt to control people, it's toxic leadership" - Marshall Goldsmith

Thanks to these toxic leadership quotes you can become aware of the warning signs of toxic behavior, and take steps to prevent it in yourself or your organization.


It's important to stay vigilant against toxic leaders and create an healthy, positive working environment where everyone feels respected and valued.


Remember, toxic leadership breeds toxic followership.

So choose wisely and lead by example!

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We hope these toxic leadership quotes have helped give you an insight into this important issue and enabled you to become a more mindful leader.

Good luck!  ​


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Disclosure:  Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to me at no cost to you if you decide to purchase. This site is not intended to provide financial advice and is for entertainment only.