The Complete List of Toxic Behaviors That Poison Teams

Toxic Behaviors That Poison Teams

Toxic behaviors connected to communication:

1. Assume silence is agreement.

2. Overstate teammate’s opinions and question their motives.

3. Sweep difficult topics under the carpet.

4. Speak for others. Begin sentences with “you”—you always and you never.

5. Polish terminology until the message is lost, obscure and acceptable to everyone on the planet.

Toxic behaviors connected to lack of humility and disrespect:

1. Tolerate drifters.

2. Allow power-members to drone on and on.

3. Share your feelings without regard for others.

4. Make decisions in private meetings, before team meetings begin.

5. Fight for everything you want.

6. Don’t adapt, as a matter of principle.

7. Start over when late-comers arrive.

8. Interrupt each other.

9. Use sarcasm to put people in their place.

10. Refuse to admit you’re wrong and pretend you know more than you know.

Toxic behaviors connected to diversity and innovation:

1. Don’t mix genders.

2. Marginalize new members who don’t know that you’ve always done it that way.

3. Invite the same people to the table, year after year.

4. Explain why new ideas won’t work as soon as they are introduced.

Toxic behaviors connected to planning and execution:

1. Get lost in the weeds.

2. Don’t identify project-champions.

3. Don’t talk about purpose and goals.

4. Assume things won’t work and remind everyone when they didn’t.

5. Solve every problem and address every imaginable contingency before you try something.

Toxic behaviors connected to meeting agendas:

1. Don’t state the purpose for the meeting.

2. Write long agendas.

3. Deal with a few “quick” items before you address important topics. Don’t leave enough time for the big stuff.

4. Discuss, but don’t decide.

Four top tips for making teams work:

1. Identify the reason for the team’s existence.

2. Connect everything you do to the reason for the team’s existence.

3. Assign champions and establish deadlines for every project or initiative.

4. Monitor energy. When you feel energy going up or down, ask, “What just happened?”

What toxic behaviors poison teams?

How might leaders do things that make teams work?  

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Dan Rockwell
Dan Rockwell’s leadership career began with a leadership position as a Youth Pastor at the age of nineteen. His experience, over thirty-five years, includes business ownership and fifteen years as a Workforce Development Consultant for a regional Penn State Special Affiliate. The Leadership Freak blog was born out of Dan’s personal frustration with his own leadership journey. Today, Leadership Freak is read in virtually every country on the globe and was recognized as the most socially-shared leadership blog of 2012 and 2013. INC.com recognized Dan as one of the top 50 leadership and management experts in the English speaking world (2014). Currently, Dan coaches leaders, consults with organizations, and delivers corporate and community presentation.