Effect of Destructive Leadership Practices In an Organization

Effect of Destructive Leadership Practices In an Organization

Table of Contents

  • Rationale and Research Questions
  • Literature Review
  • Research Methodology
  • Research Philosophy
  • Data Collection and Sampling
  • Ethical issues
  • References

Leadership is often referred to as the reciprocal relationship between a leader and its followers. A leader principally employs social influence for the purpose of persuading followers and tries to attain the overall goals of the organization (Hogan and Kaiser, 2005). Majority of the available literature about leadership have principally focused on the characteristics of an effective or good leadership (Higgs, 2009). Such studies have led to romanticisation of leadership and hence it is believed that leaders are one of the pillars of an organization. As a result, leaders are now considered as the saviours of an organizational crisis (Bligh et al., 2007). However, most of the authors have ignored the darker side of leadership. The darker side of a leadership is characterised by the activities of a leader which forces organizations to a situation, where they can experience a stagnation or decline. Moreover, in such cases leadership is not at all considered as a constructive or the best option to satisfy the organizational goals (Mellahi, Jackson and Sparks, 2002; Whicker, 1996). There have been several terms used to describe the darker side of leadership and destructive leadership is one of them. Einarsen et al. (2007, p.208), defines destructive leadership as the systematic and repeated behaviour by a leader, supervisor or manager that violates the legitimate interest of the organisation by undermining and/or sabotaging the organisation’s goals, tasks, resources, and effectiveness and/or the motivation, well being or job satisfaction of subordinates.

Effect of Destructive Leadership Practices In an Organization

This study aims to uncover the effect of destructive leadership practices in an organization. The major reason behind carrying out a research on this topic is that, there are only few studies which have examined the impact of destructive leadership in an organization. In order to get deeper insights about the area of concern, the study will evaluate how destructive leadership negatively impacts certain factors of organizations. The study will analyse how destructive leadership causes bullying and affect the performance of employees. The study is therefore considered as extremely important and can be highly effective in the field of research pertaining to leadership in organizations. Moreover, this study will have the ability to show the relationship between employee satisfaction and leadership styles. Hence, the study also has high value in the field of business research.     

On the basis of the objective of the study, the following are the research questions which will be answered by adopting suitable methodologies. The research questions are as follows: –

Q1. How leadership styles are important in deciding the success of an organization?

Q2. How destructive leadership abuses the employees emotionally?

Q3. How destructive leadership harasses the employees of an organization? 

Q4. How destructive leadership affects the performance of the employees?

Literature Review

This section of the study will carry out a review of the literatures to be used for the study. It will mainly highlight the views or the theories proposed by the scholars previously. In this context, the literature review will be carried out with the help of books, journal articles, newspaper, magazines and authentic electronic sources. However, the main focus will be on the academic journal articles.

There are only few research papers which has emphasized on the darker side of leadership or the ill effects of destructive leadership (Tepper, 2000). On the other hand, more research can be found about effective or constructive leadership (Kelloway, Mullen and Francis, 2006). According to Ashforth (1994), traditionally, research pertaining to leadership principally focused on how effective leadership help organizations to grow or what are the elements of a good leadership. Moreover, there was an assumption that ineffective leadership only reflects about the leadership absence. However, with the course of time, it has become evident that ineffective or destructive leadership is not only a mere absence of leadership, but also includes several other factors.

In a recent study carried out by Schilling (2009), the author found that leaders at times portray behaviours that try to satisfy personal goals rather than the organisational goals.  The author also found that the behaviour of the followers and existing situation also plays a major role in the dark side characteristics. According to a study carried out by Zapf, Einarsen, Hoel and Vartia (2003), around 5-10 % of the employees are subjected to bullying and around them 80 % of the employees believe that bullying cases mostly involves managers or leaders in the role of the alleged bully.       

According to Flood et al. (2007), destructive leadership sometime causes interpersonal conflicts, as well as a major cause of harassment, bullying, organization violence and employee abuse. Moreover, such leadership style also creates violence in the workplace.

In the similar manner, Waldron and Kassing (2011) stated that with the practise of destructive leadership, leaders tend to mistreat and humiliate the followers. In addition, leaders also portray abusive behaviour. The author also believes that such actions create apprehension in the minds of the employees which results into lower employee productivity. Hence, from an overall viewpoint it can be concluded that destructive leadership negatively impacts the organization.          

Research Methodology

The methodology to be adopted for a study plays a crucial role in successfully carrying out a project. The research methodology of a project is also important because it is responsible for creating the pathway of the research. This section will shed light on the research approach, and the data collection method. In addition to this, the research methodology section will also shed light on the respondents and sample size.  

Research Philosophy

The principal objective of the study is to uncover the impact of destructive leadership in an organization. The study also has some sub questions that tries to establish direct relationship with some elements of employee satisfaction. In order to complete the project successfully, it is essential to consider the philosophical context of the research. Research philosophy is defined as the way by which information pertaining to the area of study will be collected, stored and analysed for the purpose of gaining meaningful and useful information. The research philosophies are broadly classified into two groups namely positivism and interpretivism. In positivism approach, researchers believe that reality is stable and can be uttered from the viewpoint of an objective. In addition, researchers also believe that the reality can be recorded with the research instruments such as surveys and experiments (Tobin and Joseph, 2006).

On the other hand interpretivism approach is considered to be an anti positivism approach. It is also known as phenomenological approach. The researchers following this approach believe that the behaviour portrayed by human beings highly depends upon their observation of the prevailing situation. Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2009) emphasizes on the fact that interpretivists believe that the nature of human being is greatly influenced by their interpretation of the given situation.   

Hence, considering the characteristics of both the approaches and also taking into account the research questions, the positivism approach has been selected for this study. Moreover, it also fits with the research design.    

Data Collection and Sampling

Data collection is probably the most important activity of a research project. On the basis of the data collected from the market, the analysis is carried out which in turn helps in concluding the project. In this context, the objective is to know how destructive leadership negatively impacts an organization and its employees.

In order to address this question, the study will depend on both primary as well as secondary data. The sources of secondary data are academic journal articles, books, and authentic online sources. On the other hand the primary data will be collected directly from the market. The study will have two respondent groups which are employees and managers of different organizations. The reason behind choosing two groups is that deeper insights about the area of concern can be gathered.        

The sample size for the employees will be 20 and the sample size for the managers will be 10. The sample size is kept small in order to ensure less ambiguity. The sampling will be done on the basis of simple random sampling as this provides equal opportunity of getting selected to every potential respondent.

As per the research approach, the data collection instrument will be a questionnaire survey. The questionnaire is a research instrument that includes a series of questions. The biggest advantage of using a questionnaire is that it allows researchers to collect data in an organized manner and also saves time. Hence, it is believed that a questionnaire survey will help to satisfy the objectives of the study.   

Ethical Issues

The study has also considered several ethical guidelines. Some of major ones are stated below: –

  • The study will be designed in such a way that none of the participant gets physically or emotionally hurt.
  • The respondents can leave the study any moment without giving prior notice.
  • The study will seek consent from the concerned authority and the participants will be also made aware about the purpose of the study.


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  • Einarsen, S., Aasland, M., and Skogstad, A., 2007. Destructive leadership behaviour: A definition and conceptual model. The Leadership Quarterly, 18, pp. 207-216.
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