Toxic by Accident


Image source by George Hodan

My children used to say, “Stop yelling dad.” I’d say, “I’m not yelling.” My voice sounded calm to me.

Authority and power amplify actions and words.

Every behavior of respected leaders is magnified. Tell a team member, for example, “Your report is late.” They hear, “I’m getting fired.” Or, you ask, “What happened?” They feel picked on.

You think , “no big deal.” They think, “Big deal.” That’s what respect does.


Toxic environments develop when leaders don’t realize their power. Quiet is loud when you’re respected, powerful, and authoritative.

Yell the good. Whisper the bad.


Don’t forget you matter.

We have bigger bodies and different clothes but we’re thirteen on the inside. You look on the inside and see a kid; they look on the outside and see a leader.

You matter in wrong ways when you forget you matter.

Embrace your importance but reject self-importance.


I’m not inflating your ego. Chances are you have plenty. I’m writing this to clarify the impact of your words and behaviors.

Arrogant leaders, who fear they don’t matter, throw their weight around like bullies. Humble leaders believe they matter. Additionally, they know they matter most when they make others matter.

C.S. Lewis said, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”

Focus on others. You have power to make others powerful.


Imagine everything you do has more impact than you believe. You think your volume is a three. Their respect for you amplifies your three to an eight.

William James said, “Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.”

Leaders who don’t realize their own power accidentally damage people and create toxic environments.

How does believing you matter impact the way you think about leadership?