Magazine article Army

Go-To Guide to Revitalize Command Climate

Magazine article Army

Go-To Guide to Revitalize Command Climate

Article excerpt

Go-To Guide to Revitalize Command Climate Tarnished: Toxic Leadership in the U.S. Military. George E. Reed. Potomac Books. 203 pages. $26.50

Now that the external pressure of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has largely abated, the military appears to be returning to its peacetime procedural roots. Initiatives like Force of the Future, new evaluations, and a renewed focus on professional military education all point to an acknowledgement that the services may have slipped in their management and education of people to meet operational requirements. Add into the mix war atrocities and high-profile ethical misconduct, and it is no wonder the Army is in a reflective mood regarding the people who were promoted and placed into leadership positions over the last decade, and their effect on the organization.

Into this internal reflection steps retired Col. George Reed, a former director at the U.S. Army War College and dean of the School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. His book, Tarnished: Toxic Leadership in the U.S. Military, is a quick and easy read that succinctly defines toxic leadership, places it within an organizational context, and describes its causes and some mitigating factors.

I picked up this book expecting to be disappointed; so many books on this subject are either too academic to be decipherable or are screeds at the ineptitude of military bureaucracy. Tarnished is, thankfully, neither. Soldiers possessing a story of enduring a boss who was inept, cruel or a micromanager will immediately identify with aspects of Reed's elaboration on toxic leaders' destructive behaviors and dysfunctional personal characteristics.

To many people, the definition of a toxic leader is largely subjective. One person's toxic leader may be another's highly effective and demanding boss who should be emulated. …

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