Leadership in organizations can often be dark and destructive. Utilizing a so-called trait approach is particularly helpful in understanding destructive leaders. Such leaders share common personality traits, notably including narcissism, hubris and Machiavellianism.
In recent years, there has been a focus on the destructive side of leadership and how dysfunctional leaders can undermine an organization’s value. In fact, empirical research has focused on the personality characteristics of flawed leaders and have pointed to negative personality traits as predictors of leadership derailment (Hogan & Hogan, 2001; Kippenberger, 1997). There appear to be several personality traits that are related to leader failure yet the three that are consistent across all studies are narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism, referred to as the “Dark Triad” (Paulhus & Williams, 2002).
Most of the research on leader effectiveness has focused on the positive side of leader behavior. However, there is evidence that toxic leaders can seriously undermine organizational life through creating a climate of intolerance and incivility. This CQ Dossier describes toxic leadership and how this negative form of leadership can disrupt effective performance management.