You know your company’s culture is toxic, but where is it coming from? Is it a systemic issue? Point-source pollution from a handful of bad eggs? Both?

It’s not always easy to tell. Because toxic leaders and employees are typically confident people, they’re often able to build a large network of followers to camouflage or protect themselves, despite their negative influence, said Deborah Ancona, a professor of leadership at MIT Sloan and founder of the MIT Leadership Center.

“Toxic leaders are often talking about all the great things that they can do. People are attracted to that and see that as the kind of leader they want,” Ancona said. “Only later, through interaction [with that person] or their behavior over time do you start to see the underbelly that isn’t always visible at first glance.”

And that can have a major impact on your workforce’s morale, productivity, and turnover — and your bottom line. But there are some red flags that can help pick out a toxic person. Here’s how to identify them.

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