Leaders Behaving Badly: Antecedents and Consequences of Abuse

Show full item record

Title: Leaders Behaving Badly: Antecedents and Consequences of Abuse
Author: Lindberg McGinnis, Jennifer Tricia
Advisors: S. Bartholomew Craig, Committee Chair
Lori Foster Thompson, Committee Member
Samuel B. Pond, III, Committee Member
Mark A. Wilson, Committee Member
Abstract: Although the leadership field has been preoccupied with identifying the leader traits and behaviors that evoke positive employee work attitudes and behaviors and maximize effectiveness (Bass, 1990; Yukl, 2002), the field has become increasingly interested in understanding the "dark side" of leader behavior. However, this research is still in its infancy. The current study increases our understanding of one class of negative leader behavior, abusive supervision, by examining supervisor personality as an antecedent of abusive supervision, along with several individual-level and organization-level consequences. An archival database was obtained from a leadership training and development consulting firm for the current study. Participants were focal managers (N = 121) who participated in a leadership development program. The managers completed a personality measure prior to the program. In addition, the managers’ subordinates (N = 779) completed a customized, qualitative 360-degree assessment instrument that asked for examples of the focal managers’ use of "bad leadership" behaviors and both their reactions to and the consequences (i.e., impacts) of these behaviors. A preliminary content analysis was conducted on the 360-degree data for 10 managers to develop the initial coding scheme. After this analysis, a content analysis was conducted on the 360-degree data for all 121 managers, resulting in 45 behavior categories and 59 reaction/impact categories. Next, 10 subject matter experts (SMEs) provided their ratings of abusive supervision and destructive leadership for the behavior categories. Eight behaviors were rated as abusive supervision; the same eight behaviors and an additional 16 behaviors were rated as destructive leadership, and 20 other behaviors were rated as non-destructive leadership. In total, 1,814 examples of bad leadership were provided; 501 (23.38%) were categorized as both abusive supervision and destructive leadership, 767 (35.8%) were categorized as destructive leadership only, and 875 (40.83%) were categorized as non-destructive leadership. Incivility (f = 75; 61.98% of managers) was the most common abusive supervisory behavior, followed by losing composure (f = 59; 48.76% of managers), lack of professionalism (f = 42; 34.71% of managers), and criticizing others (f = 36; 29.75% of managers). Forty-six reaction categories were associated with the eight abusive behaviors, and only two reaction categories were associated with subordinates’ responses to all eight of these behaviors: (1) damage to manager’s reputation or credibility; and (2) damage to manager—employee work relationships. The most common reactions across the abusive supervisory behaviors included: (1) feeling unappreciated, not valued, unworthy; marginalized (12.91%); (2) damage to manager’s reputation or credibility (12.69%); (3) damage to manager—employee work relationships (7.77%); (4) discomfort (6.46%); (5) apathy (6.02%); and (6) embarrassment (5.36%). Likewise, 59 impact categories were associated with the eight abusive behaviors, and only two impact categories were associated with subordinates’ responses to all eight of these behaviors: (1) decreased employee morale; and (2) decreased employee performance or results. The most common impacts across the abusive supervisory behaviors included: (1) damage to manager’s reputation or credibility (12.92%); (2) decreased employee morale (7.03%); (3) damage to work relationships (6.91%); (4) damage to manager—employee work relationships (6.52%); and (5) avoidance of or decreased communication with manager (5.24%). Subordinates’ reactions to and the impacts of these eight behaviors were also examined within each abusive supervisory behavior. Finally, after creating nine cluster profiles of the eight abusive supervisory behaviors, a discriminant function analysis revealed that cluster membership could not be predicted on the basis of the managers’ personality characteristics (i.e., openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, and agreeableness). The implications of this research for future empirical research and organizational practice were discussed.
Date: 2010-04-30
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Psychology
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/6205


Files in this item

Files Size Format View
etd.pdf 466.2Kb PDF View/Open

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show full item record