Alan Goldman


On his book Transforming Toxic Leaders

Cover Interview of January 14, 2010

In a nutshell

In my new book Transforming Toxic Leaders I speak from behind closed corporate doors to provide a unique view into the dark side of leadership. Based on executive coaching and consultations I tell surprising stories of companies struggling to understand and remedy what goes wrong. I reveal how the behind-the-scenes fears, hostilities, and internal warfare disclosed by sometimes brilliant leaders require highly personalized and confidential coaching and treatment. I get called in after grievances, acts of sabotage and plunging productivity threaten the very existence of once marquee organizations.

Transforming Toxic Leaders calls attention to the high incidence of leaders who bring pre-existing psychological and emotional disorders into their workplace—and how crises eventually bring out the toxic tendencies that were in remission. By telling the true stories of destructive behaviors and agendas I show how leaders turn toxic due to poorly conceived downsizing and abrupt overnight restructuring.  The cost of toxic leadership is quite high and the longer it is allowed to germinate the costlier it becomes. Bringing a background in counseling psychology into my coaching and consulting, I train companies to sharpen their toxin detection and toxin handler skills.

I build on a strong theoretical foundation, grounded in research undertaken over the past few decades, and provide tools for action. These are in the form of stories that I’ve selected from my wide repertoire of cases, such as the heart surgeon’s operating team crisis at Eisenhower Heart Institute and the “savage downsizings” at Bentley Pacific and Jarling-Weber. These cases demonstrate ways to better handle problems that may unfold in readers’ own workplaces.

These narratives culminate in a chapter providing a diagnostic list of 125 dimensions of toxic leadership and 125 corresponding strategies for detoxification. Human resource professionals, business managers, and executives seeking to resolve troublesome leader behaviors, hastily conceived restructurings, and employee uprisings will find a wealth of strategies in my book.