Undesirable leadership behaviours such as workplace bullying, destructive or toxic leadership are reportedly on the increase with negative effects on both the well-being of employees and the organisation (Salin, 2003). Since there is limited empirical evidence regarding the relationship between destructive leadership and psychological distress, the purpose of this study was to determine whether such a relationship exists among employees in South African organisations. Furthermore, the study intended to investigate whether gender has a moderating effect on this relationship. Destructive leadership behaviour is defined 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 his/her subordinates (Einarsen, Aasland & Skogstad, 2007). With a sample (n = 200) of South African employees, the study adopted a correlational design and used the Destructive Leadership Behaviour Scale developed by Aasland, Skogstad and Einarsen (2008) as well as the Hopkins Symptoms Checklist-45 developed by Derogatis, Lipman, Richels, Uhlenhuth and Covi (1974) to assess the relationship between destructive leadership behaviour and psychological distress as well as the moderating effect of gender. The results indicated that two of the six hypotheses were accepted. H2, there is a relationship between overall destructive leadership and psychological distress, has been accepted. Furthermore H5, there is a significant correlation between the participants’ overall destructive leadership scores and overall psychological distress, was also accepted. Finally H6, gender has a moderating effect on the relationship between participants overall destructive leadership scores and overall psychological distress scores, was rejected.
Dissertation (MCom)--University of Pretoria, 2014.