Understanding toxic leadership

A review of Michael Angel Folorunso’s book, Tactics of Toxic Leadership: A Study in Existential Tyrannies by Bori Fergie.

The book, ‘Tactics of Toxic Leadership : A Study in Existential Tyrannies’, is a disquisition of the sinister activity of leaders whose stock in trade is to exacerbate the conditions of their followers, thus leaving them worse than they met them. Why should the followers still be obeying toxic leaders who are wicked and selfish? Toxic leaders or “little Hitler” tend to be poisonous, nepotistic, narcissistic, greedy and viciously manipulative up to the blistering level of destroying their environment and hampering the development of their followers.

The author of the book reveals the triangulated postulate of destructive leadership, which is a function of susceptible followers and conducive environment. He thinks catholically further:

“A leader is a visionary problem solver, an influencer, an innovator, creative destroyer, ego-reinforcer, improviser, mobiliser, educator, agender setter, with critical capacity to communicate in order to further strengthen the meeting points in the social tetrahedron” (Preface, xii).

The book is divided into two parts. Chapters One to Four deal rightly with some theories of leadership and toxicity. While chapters Five to Sixteen explain the critical tactics deployed by toxic leaders in history. For example, some of the tactics used in the work are “political repression, lying, lustration and disappearances, political corruption, kleptocracy, political conspiracies, loaded language, social death, secret police, death squads and assassinations and information warfare” among other things. The author is able to explain these tactics across the globe using primary and secondary sources of data to give his work a sound grounding.

While giving a testimony to the brilliant and innovative ideas espoused by the author in tackling toxic leadership crisis in Africa, emeritus Professor Oni Bankole said: “You have a good command of English language. Aside, your work is so engaging and page turner to the extent that I’ve been inspired in my own writing“.

Folorunso’s book is timely produced now that toxic leaders are mushrooming in Africa. Some of the tactics poignantly referred to in the book are not found wanting in the Buhari presidency, even if the work is not directed at the APC-led regime. Toxicity of leadership is not necessarily political. Its traits can be found in any social settings, including the homefront, workplace and religious centres. The cover image of the book, situating a roaring lion baring his fang, depicts the ferocity of the toxic leaders with their Machiavellic terror needed to scare off and/or expend  disturbing elements in their territory. A toxic leader is known for creating the climate of fear and anxiety for the followers in order to perpetrate evil act and compel their obedience regardless of the outcome. A perfect writing is impossible for a finite being. Yet, the author’s work is, to a great extent, lucidly crafted and beneficial to all leadership practitioners. It makes a good read, and lessons learned will help in opening the eyes of followers in order not to fall into the sinkhole of the crime of obedience!

The book is therefore recommended to all lovers of knowledge and those who intend to lead in any strata of human endeavours.

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