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Leadership Ghosting, It Is Toxic – The Silent Crisis In Leadership Communication

Written by: Rohit Bassi, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Rohit Bassi

How would you feel if your attempts to communicate were ghosted, ignored, or not acknowledged time and again? And when responses finally arrive, they lack the clarity and transparency? 

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This scenario, unfortunately, paints a real picture in the workplaces, where silence has become an inadvertent yet pervasive leadership strategy. This toxic behaviour isn't just an oversight; it's a significant failure that corrodes the very fabric of powerful leadership and professional relationships. Despite many leaders' belief in their proactive communication, the stark truth unveils a darker reality: they are, in fact, guilty of leadership ghosting, silently damaging both internal and external parties morale.Leaders must confront the uncomfortable bitter truth: they have perpetuated a culture of toxicity and neglect through leadership ghosting. Regardless of their justifications, they must feel the weight of shame and guilt for their actions and commit to rectifying the damage done to the people they have interacted with.

Let’s take a look at this crisis and find ways to practically change in how leaders communicate.

The wide-ranging impact of communication neglect

This failure in leadership communication has a broad and detrimental impact:

Internal Teams Feel Devalued: The neglect to promptly and clearly respond to communications sends a disheartening message to internal teams. It signals that their efforts, concerns, and contributions are undervalued, significantly harming morale and eroding trust within the team.

External Relationships Are Jeopardised: Equally, this silence or ambiguity affects the external connections. It erodes the trust and reliability foundational to effective collaborations and partnerships. All this potentially tarnishing the reputation and deterring future opportunities for innovation and growth.

Exploring EVP: The underpinning of communication breakdown

Emotions: The constant disregard for communication efforts can incite a spectrum of negative emotions, including frustration, resentment, and a sense of disconnection. These feelings can significantly dampen motivation and engagement, affecting productivity and overall job satisfaction.

Values: The discrepancy between professed values of transparency, respect, and collaboration and the reality of its communication practices undermines its integrity and authenticity. This misalignment diminishes the leader’s strength and the appeal to connect with them.

Perceptions: Persistent communication failures reshape the perception of an organisation's leadership effectiveness and reliability. This altered perception can become an enduring aspect of the organisation's identity, influencing not just current but also future relationships and the organisation’s attractiveness as an employer.

Confronting toxic leadership communication

Addressing toxic leadership communication necessitates courage, clarity, conviction, and compassion. These four elements are essential for anyone aiming to challenge and improve harmful communication practices, especially when facing potential resistance or personal consequences.

Courage: It takes significant courage to call out damaging behaviours, particularly when such actions might risk one’s position or professional standing. Leaders may see this bravery as a direct challenge, responding defensively or with ego, heightening the risk for the individual who speaks up.

Clarity: Clearly articulating the issue is vital. This means pinpointing exactly how the communication style is harmful, its impact on team morale and productivity, and suggesting actionable improvements. A clear, focused approach, highlighting specific behaviours and their outcomes, ensures the message is taken seriously and not brushed off as mere complaining.

Conviction: Firm belief in the importance of positive, respectful communication underpins the determination to push for change, despite potential backlash. This conviction supports individuals in maintaining their stance in the face of scepticism or outright hostility.

Compassion: Approaching the situation with empathy is crucial. This involves striving to understand the leader’s perspective and challenges, aiming to help them see and alter their communication style. Compassion can reduce defensiveness and facilitate more open, constructive dialogue. It recognises the potential for personal growth and the complexity of human behaviours.

Challenging toxic communication within leadership is fraught with complexity and potential personal cost. The act itself may be seen as threatening by the leader, prompting reactions driven more by ego than a readiness to reflect and adapt. 

Despite these challenges, advocating for a healthier communication culture is a noble pursuit, requiring a balanced mix of courage, clarity, conviction, and compassion, albeit with the understanding that it may lead to difficult conversations and significant personal sacrifices.

Cultivating responsive leadership

Addressing this pervasive issue demands a concerted commitment from leaders to enhance their communication practices:

Acknowledge the Communication Crisis: The first step towards transformation is for leaders to recognise and admit the extent of the communication breakdown and its impact on the organisation and the people they connect with.

Set Clear Communication Standards: Leaders must establish and communicate clear expectations for their response times and preferred methods of communication, thereby minimising misunderstandings and setting a new standard for communication.

Implement Effective Follow-Up Systems: Adopting systems to ensure communications are acknowledged and addressed is critical. This might involve leveraging technology or delegating responsibilities to ensure efficiency in communication.

Promote an EVP-Consistent Communication Ethos: Leaders should strive to align their communication practices with the essential elements of emotions, values, and perceptions. This means practising empathy, living up to the stated values, and managing perceptions through consistent, constructive engagement.

Conclusion: The path forward

The issue of communication neglect signals a deep-seated leadership flaw that needs urgent rectification. 

In conclusion, despite leaders believing in their proactive communication, the truth is they're guilty of leadership ghosting, damaging morale internally and externally. They must face the uncomfortable fact: they've fostered a culture of toxicity and neglect. Regardless of their justifications, they must feel the weight of shame and guilt and commit to repairing the harm caused to those they've interacted with. Only through genuine remorse and action can trust be rebuilt and a more positive environment created.

By prioritising responsive, clear, and respectful communication, leaders have the power to rebuild trust, foster collaboration, and create a more vibrant, engaged culture. The journey from pervasive silence to meaningful interaction is challenging but critical for the health and success.

This transformation is not simply about preventing misunderstandings or maintaining momentum; it is about nurturing an environment where every voice is valued, and every message is treated with the gravity it deserves. 

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Rohit Bassi Executive Contributor

Rohit Bassi, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Rohit Bassi has been given the title of "The Communication Wizard." He assists clients in improving careers, businesses, and lives. He does this by serving leaders, teams, and change-makers to be wise and impactful with their communication.



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