Most literature on leadership paints a rather positive picture of the leader

Most literature on leadership paints a rather positive picture of the leader. Even our video cases show leaders doing or trying to do the right thing. There is a complementary literature, however, that suggests a darker side to some leader behaviors. I have included in this module three articles that focus on negative, <link is hidden> toxic, features of leaders. Two are classics (Conger and Maccoby) and another (Kets de Vries) is more recent. While Conger and Maccoby provide examples relevant to the times they were writing, they both make very insightful comments on leadership, especially narcissistic tendencies on the part of some leaders. Kets de Vries expands the dark side to include mental health and passive-aggressive behaviors.

It is very difficult to get an accurate assessment of these dark side traits. For example, senior executives are usually not open to completing personality questionnaires. Both Maccoby and de Vries are practicing therapists with considerable experience working with executives. So, their insights tend to be more from a psychoanalytic perspective.

I have also attached a study “It’s All about Me: Narcissistic Chief Executive Officers and Their Effects on Company Strategy and Performance” by Arijit Chatterjee and Donald C. Hambrick, both of whom are major researchers in strategic leadership. This is not a required reading, but if you are interested in how researchers try to address dark side leadership behaviors, I suggest you check out this article from the academic literature. Most of it is quite readable. You may find the section on measurement of narcissism (pages 362-363) creative and also applicable to your own experiences. I would appreciate feedback as part of your discussion in CDB3. Teams 1,2,6,7 please post to Section A; teams 3,4,5 post to Section B. Of course, if you want to comment on threads from your opposite section, that is okay.


For this class discussion assignment, I would like you to discuss the following:

What are some key takeaways? In this respect, I think it is a good idea to express your thoughts in your own words.

Can you give some examples of a leader you know who you suspected had dark side tendencies (please disguise names, unless they are public figures).


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