Is Toxic Leadership Destroying You and Your Business? Interview with Mark Cushway

Is Toxic Leadership Destroying You and Your Business? Interview with Mark Cushway

Toxicity in business is not restricted to other people. You might have developed toxic behaviours without realising it, and these same behaviours could be driving others away from you.

How people feel about their boss is a major part of how they feel about their work, and consequently how they perform in their role in the workplace.

Here, Mark Cushway, visionary business coach and entrepreneur, talks about toxic business behaviours in leadership, how to identify them, and why they matter.


Toxic Leadership

“Toxic people can display a variety of traits, from being judgemental to manipulative, to behaviour that is both inconsistent and demanding. They can leave a heavy sense of negativity hanging over the workplace, and therefore affect morale and, ultimately, productivity.”

These kinds of behaviours can be disruptive at any level within an organisation or business, but when it comes to leadership, they can be especially damaging.


“Self-centred attitudes and behaviours, and selfish motivations, all conspire to create toxic leadership, and toxic leaders breed toxic cultures

Mark Cushway


What are the aims of the toxic leader?

“It all comes back to being self-serving. It’s where you see others in an organisation simply as a vehicle to get you what you want.”


Typical Toxic Characteristics

The toxic leader displays certain characteristics. This type of leadership is not simply weak, or misguided, it is damaging.

“We all make mistakes, but toxic leadership is more fundamentally flawed, because rather than learning from their mistakes, toxic leaders keep repeating them.”

Typical characteristics of this kind of leadership include being:

  • autocratic
  • narcissistic
  • manipulative
  • intimidating
  • discriminatory
  • overly competitive


“With toxic leadership others are likely to see a combination of two or more of these behaviours coming up repeatedly.  But will the person in the leadership position spot it themselves?”


Are You at Risk of Becoming Toxic?

“Toxicity doesn’t only affect others, it damages the individual displaying these behaviours. It undermines their leadership and therefore can damage their whole business.”

You can become toxic to others when you start believing that anything that happens to you is all about you – either an assault on your sense of who you are, or otherwise wholly focused on you and your achievements.

“Positive or negative, the toxic worldview is that everything orbits around you. Taking everything personally can be very disruptive to business leadership. Similarly, treating yourself as a victim is also a toxic viewpoint.”

Another crucial aspect of leadership is empathy, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. If you lack this, putting someone else down and constantly demeaning them in front of others, you can end up with cruelty, one of the most damaging of toxic behaviours.


“Leadership is vulnerable to toxicity because it offers so many opportunities for individuals to misuse or misunderstand how it should work. And often those in leadership who lack inner confidence end up displaying toxic behaviours”

Mark Cushway


”To avoid toxic behaviours you must first understand how to lead effectively, and what it means to be a good leader.” Mark concludes.  “Good leadership is about having confidence in yourself, but also demonstrating that you have it in others.”


Business Aspects Magazine thanks Mark Cushway for his insight in this interview.  To read Mark’s other interviews, please visit: