Turning a blind eye to destructive leadership: the forgotten destructive leaders

Birgit Schyns, Pedro Neves, Barbara Wisse, Michael Knoll

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


While selecting for and developing positive leader traits and behaviors can improve leadership performance, forgetting about the destructive aspects of leadership is risky. Because of leaders’ direct and indirect influence in organizations (for example, giving orders to followers, establishing reward and information systems, setting norms, acting as role models, shaping an organization’s culture), destructive leaders have the potential to do harm to followers, organizations, and external stakeholders. This chapter offers a brief overview of the most researched concepts in the field of destructive leadership, showcases empirical results that emphasize their importance, and addresses several questions concerning: followers’ perspectives on, and definitions of, destructive leaders; the extent to which destructive leadership is intended or the consequence of incompetence/indifference; whether destructive outcomes are the leader’s intention or a mere side-effect of other aims, such as performance management; and how context influences the perception and actual behaviors of destructive leadership. Addressing these four questions may help us to overcome blind spots in leadership research, practice, and teaching, thus providing a more complete perspective of what the leadership process in fact entails.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWhat's Wrong With Leadership?
Subtitle of host publicationImproving Leadership Research and Practice
EditorsRonald E. Riggio
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherTaylor and Francis Ltd.
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781351671675
ISBN (Print)9781315163604
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


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