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Toxic leadership in the Army: What Fort Bliss is doing to prevent it
By: Gina Benitez
FORT BLISS, Texas --
Top leaders in the Army have publicly acknowledged there are too many toxic leaders within the organization.
The kind of bosses who make those working for them, miserable.
"When you're self centered as a leader, then you start to build distrust within an organization. You start to build an environment where people are not rewarded for the hard work that they do and that contributes a lot to the thoughts about toxic leadership within an organization," said Lt. Col. Kevin Admiral, deputy chief of staff of the Fort Bliss 1AD.
Toxic leadership can be present in any workplace environment.
But within the Army, the consequences can be much more severe.
"We're in a life and death business. And people need to trust their leaders that they are going to take care of them," Admiral said.
Fort Bliss spokesman Lt. Col. Lee Peters says in the last year, there were some 600 people in leadership roles on post.
"Of those, 99 percent have performed positively and effectively. So only five people of those almost 600 have been relieved or suspended of their duties for various infractions," Peters said.
Peters says the Army has a program where officers' peers and subordinates assess them.
"All that stuff is done anonymously so you can kind of be candid in your view of that," Peters said.
And that's not all.
"We actually do sensing sessions, forums, interviews and all those are anonymous as well so soldiers can say, based upon this is the type of environment that's going on in my unit," Peters said.
In 2012, the Army defined toxic leadership for the first time.
Part of the definition states:
"Toxic leadership is a combination of self-centered attitudes, motivations, and behaviors that have adverse effects on subordinates, the organization, and mission performance."
Fort Bliss officials said the post fosters positive leadership styles and doesn't tolerate toxicity at all.
"If you're treating people disrespectfully, if you're treating people not the way you want to be treated, then why would they want to follow you?," Admiral said.
One Army researcher who studied why a small group of soldiers in Iraq committed suicide in the past year found toxic leaders played a role in their deaths.
The Army and the National Institutes of Mental Health are just starting to touch on whether toxic leadership has played a role in more soldier suicides.