What is Toxic Followership?

inToxicating followership in the jonestown massacre

Dr. Edmonds coins the definition of Toxic Followership as the manipulation of individuals by a trusted party who transforms the mindset of others, whereby individuals become an extension of a toxic leaders' moral decay. This type of behavior leads to destruction and in some cases, death.  

This book examines the lived experiences of the November 1978 Jonestown Massacre survivors through the lens of “toxic followership.” Dr. Edmonds defines toxic followership as the manipulation of individuals by a trusted party who transforms the mindset of others, whereby individuals become an extension of toxic leaders' moral decay.  This type of behavior leads to destruction and in some cases, death.  Included are excerpts from the Jim Jones followers and suggestions on how to prevent yielding to the deceptive practices of destructive leaders. 

 

The word intoxicating covers both ends of the spectrum from feeling exhilarated to feeling physically and mentally impaired. In the wake of the death of George Floyd, a black man who died when a police officer held his knee on his neck for eight minutes and forty-six seconds, ignoring the cries from the victim, “I can’t breathe,” this act of the officer ultimately ended Mr. Floyd’s life as three other accompanying police officers took no action to prevent the murder. What a devastating example of toxic followership unto death. This topic is reflective of the incidents encountered by survivors who were followers of Jim Jones, a destructive leader who masterminded a murder/suicide event. In the end, 918 people perished in the jungles of Guyana on November 18, 1978.

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