The Toxic Mission Organization – Fiction or Fact?

Author: Rob Hay


The likelihood is great that almost everyone, at some point during the span of a thirty or forty year career, will work in an organisation dominated by a toxic leader and also will work in a toxic organisation. Neither the organisation nor the leader will wear a warning label but most people instinctively know they have been in an unhealthy organisation because they felt inhibited, constrained and unable to thrive even if they survived. In this new area of scholarship: toxicity of organisations, we see a complex interplay of factors and an array of symptoms of toxicity but the toxic organisation in very simple terms is one where healthy functioning, normal growth and the ability of an individual to thrive and flourish are all inhibited.
As Michael Herman1 says “The notion of toxic organisations isn’t new, everyone has a story about one.”
Does it exist?
It is worthwhile looking at a diversity of organisations to explore whether and where toxicity has been identified. Many areas have been studied by this new scholarship and it is by no means just restricted to the business world.

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