The issue of leadership is a complex one for both business and academia, with research largely focusing on the positive influence that leaders have on those around them. However, the existing research, which has offered typologies of negative leaders, has not adequately investigated the impact that negative leaders have on those around them. This aim of this study is to investigate the observed behaviour of leaders who have been experienced as ÒtoxicÓ, the effect this has on their followers and how they cope under such leaders.
This research adopted qualitative, exploratory methods to investigate the behaviours of toxic leaders and the coping mechanisms of their followers. A total of 14 semi-structured, in-depth interviews were carried out with knowledge workers who had experienced toxic leaders. The interviews were analysed through thematic analysis.
While previous literature shared theoretical categories of behaviours, this research presented and categorised actual behaviours and coping methods as employed by followers of toxic leaders. Further, this research identified that there are perceived causal factors that drive the behaviours of toxic leaders, such as their personality traits, which toxic leaders themselves may be unaware of. The research identified a five-stage process of the experience of having a toxic boss and the elements of each of the stages. The research offers a taxonomy of how attachment style, follower type, coping type, coping mechanism and associated behaviours may be linked to further understand followers responses to toxic leaders.
Mini Dissertation (MBA)--University of Pretoria, 2019.