Can leadership kill?

Everybody knows bad leadership can be costly.

It leads to turnover, workplace stress, and decreased cooperation, costing businesses billions yearly. But can leadership kill?

Many of us have attended keynotes or workshops that focus on plane crashes. We listen in on the final flight deck conversations between the chilling co-pilots and captains, which crash. Chilling, not just because you hear the crash, was avoidable.

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talks about cultural power-distance gaps and how they contribute to plane crashes and near-miss accidents. And as a frequent flyer, I am glad steps are being taken to reduce power differentials in the cockpit. They are focusing on precisely the right thing: leadership behaviour.

But what about cultures of leadership that kill in less apparent ways than a dramatic air crash?

I think you will find Dr. Greta G. Cummings of the University of Alberta’s YouTube presentation of interest, where she quantifies the impact of leaders of healthcare centres on patient mortality.

Astoundingly her study shows that poor leadership styles contribute to a 6% mortality rate in healthcare facilities.

That is, 6 out of 100 deaths are directly connected to ambiguous communication styles and expectations of the facility’s leadership.

Maybe the impact of unhealthy leadership in your organization is not as dire as to result in a death …

 But what is bad behaviour costing?