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Posted: November 16th, 2022
Leadership is intertwined with all the concepts discussed in this course. While a great deal of research has been conducted on what makes for effective leadership, there is also a fair amount of research on why leaders derail, falter and fail. In this assignment you are to conduct a literature review on the topic of leadership derailment and report back on what you discovered.
Various studies have noted that for many years the concern of the research in leadership has focused on the positives traits of leadership. Much is already written on leadership including ‘leadership by the numbers’: five practices, seven habits, fourteen principles, and twenty-one laws (Bogue, 2010) among others. Nonetheless, due to the past scandals and various crises including the 2008 economic depression in the United States and the rest of the world have attracted many researchers to explore the dark side of leadership (Inyang, 2013). The dark side of leadership is commonly known as the leadership derailment; and Inyang (2013) asserts, leadership derailment is a situation of leadership failure. The literature review intended here is to give an insightful understanding and knowledge on the topic of leadership derailment based on the selected relevant studies.
Causes of leadership derailment
It is of interest to begin on the causes of the dark side of leadership since it is the provision for the foundation of understanding the concept. The research conducted by Inyang (2013) applied a qualitative survey approach by reviewing the secondary information to explore much about the leadership derailment. Some of their aspects of consideration of the study include causes, consequences, and management strategies of the derailment. The causes of leadership derailment are multi-facet and are excoriated through by a combination of organizational, situational, and behavioral factors (Inyang, 2013). He summarized the cause into three broad categories: behavioral, situational, and organizational aspects. Einarsen, Aasland, and Skogstad (2007) on their research of ‘Destructive Leadership,’ derailed leadership was considered as one of the destructive leadership. Einarsen and his colleagues came to the same deduction on causes of derailment leaders.
Thus, it is clear that derailed leaders arise from performance problem with the organizational activities, inability to adapt to current situations or to establish the essential skills, intimidating to other staff members through adopting the bullying, intimidating, and abrasive style of management. Einarsen, Aasland, and Skogstad (2007) asserted that derailed leaders are associated with being overambitious. So they spend much of their time thinking about how to continue rising on ranks rather than executing their duties; they spend more effort in attempting to please the upper management, and they are unable to adapt quickly to superiors with different leadership skills (Einarsen, Aasland & Skogstad, 2007). The two studies arrived at the same deductions that the derailed leadership has negative repercussion to the organizational outcomes (Einarsen, Aasland & Skogstad, 2007; Inyang, 2013). Therefore, the causes of leadership fully revolve around, the challenges that situations and dynamism of the environment bring to leaders hence hindering their interaction with other people within the organization to deliberate on the organizational goals successfully.
Traits of leaders in relation to style of leadership
Some studies have focused on the traits of the derailment leaders. For instance, Beycioglu (2014) considered the traits leading to leaders’ derailment through focusing on the Dark Triad. The dark triad refers to a description of three socially undesirable personality traits: psychopathy, Machiavellianism, and narcissism (Beycioglu, 2014). Psychopathy is defined as a remorseless manipulation, the pattern of callous, and manipulation of others. Machiavellianism refers to individual differences in insincerity, callousness, and manipulation. On the other hand, narcissism is denoted by dominance, exploitation, exhibitionism, and feelings of entitlement and superiority (Beycioglu, 2014). The Dark Triad or the three personality traits positively correlate with laissez-faire, abusive, and passive leadership styles; also the traits negatively correlate with transformational leadership (Westerlaken & Woods, 2013).
The relationship between these traits and leadership are considered to be non-linear as demonstrated by researchers such as Benson and Campbell (Beycioglu, 2014). Thus, the type of good leadership and derailment leadership may be deduced from the dark triad relationship with leadership. According to Beycioglu (2014) states that the leaders with medium scores dark triad facets have better leadership ratings as compared to the leaders with the extreme scores, both low and high. This new approach to the causes reveals more on the relationship between the derailed leadership and the type of leadership while the studies by Einarsen, Aasland, and Skogstad (2007) and Inyang (2013) relate derailed leadership with the situation, environment, and organizational activities. Despite the rising interest in dark side of leadership the available empirical literature is limited (Harms, Spain & Hannah, 2011).
Since behavioral factors may lead to derailed leadership, it thus drives the focus to the relationship existing between the relationship-oriented leader and task-oriented leader behaviors and derailment leadership. This will show the best kind of leadership to adopt whenever faced with a situation. Braddy et al. (2014), conducted a research of 966 leaders who attended a program concerning leadership development; and these leaders were rated by the supervisors, direct reports, and peers. The rating included an implication that deliberates on an insight into leadership derailment. The researchers reported their findings analytically through random coefficient modeling, relative weight analysis, and polynomial regression. The random coefficient modeling revealed that ratings from the self-direct report, peer, and supervisor on leadership behavioral vary and associated with career derailment ability. Polynomial regression analysis showed that leadership derailment potential is lowest if self-ratings are lower in comparison to other ratings of leader behavior. On the other hand, relative weight analysis portrayed an indication that self-rating mattered the least while peer ratings matter the most when predicting leadership derailment potential of a leader (Braddy et al., 2014).
The researchers deduced from this study that low career derailment potential is contingent on a leader who is portraying a combination of both task-oriented and relationship-oriented behavior that appeal to supervisors, peers, and direct reports (Braddy et al., 2014). From this deduction, it is evident that failure to get the correct matching or mix between task and relationship-oriented behaviors is like self-defeating since it may result to the derailment. It is thus conceivable that extreme insensitivity to the things contributing to appropriate task as well as the relationship behavior may be seen as a blunder. The style of leadership and traits of leaders are correlated, and leaders must choose wisely the style of leadership to apply to any particular situation.
Consequences of derailed leadership
Derailed leadership is not a virtue hence it results in consequences. According to Inyang (2013), leadership derailment has grave consequences to an organizational system as a whole. Its consequences fall on the individuals as followers, stakeholders, and organization (Inyang, 2013). Einarsen, Aasland, and Skogstad (2007) also came up with the same deduction regarding consequences of derailing leadership. Some of the consequences are bullying, humiliation, manipulation, and deceiving subordinates; and at the same moment participating at ant-organizational behaviors such as absenteeism, committing frauds, and withdrawing from work (Einarsen, Aasland & Skogstad, 2007). The previous corporate failures are in various regions of the world corroborate to the idea that derailed or failed leadership does not only impact each and every facet of an organization, but it also goes beyond the organization circumference (Inyang, 2013).
Some consequences of the derailed leadership as provided by researchers depict outrageous overstepping of bounds. For that matter, such leaders can only continue being in power if they have tolerant followers. The acolytes let derailed leadership free rein because they are afraid to lose the associated benefits, being so weak that they cannot stand up to them, or for fear of consequences that may befall them if they resist (Van Den Broeck & Venter, 2011). However, this does not despise the fact that such environment or situation call for principled leadership. Since the consequences of derailed leadership are adverse and widespread, it is a good idea to look at the strategies for solving these consequences.
Strategies for prevention and mitigating derailed leadership
Leaders should develop self-awareness as a means of mitigating derailment. This can be done in two areas: the way others perceive them and their dark side tendencies (Hogan, Hogan & Kaiser, 2010). This can be done through coworker feedback. The ratings received in the form of feedback will provide leaders with ratings and which enable them to understand the perception of others about them. Data from both the peer and subordinate is fundamental as they are the people most exposed to the behaviors associated with derailment (Hogan, Hogan & Kaiser, 2010). Inyang (2013), also through reviewing secondary sources came up with the strategy of self-awareness. Through proper recruitment and selection, organizations may also reduce the chances of letting the derailed leaders and managers into the system (Inyang, 2013).
Hogan, Hogan, and Kaiser (2010) critiqued selection as a method of barring the derailment into the system because derailed executive bears a resemblance to successful executives such as being ambitious and bright. Nevertheless, some qualities distinguish successful executives from the derailed executives, for example, derailed leaders easily lose their composure and have inflated self-evaluation (Hogan, Hogan & Kaiser, 2010). So it means that when using recruitment and selection as a strategy of preventing derailment in the organizational system, the panels must be extra careful. Executive coaching is significant in developing leaders to adhere to the situation to avoid falling into the derailment zone. The process prepares the employees in time so that when they rise to high ranks, they would be knowledgeable enough to know how to tackle challenging issues. When provided with the valuable and relevant lesson, these employees will give results to the organization in the long-run (Inyang, 2013; Hogan, Hogan & Kaiser, 2010). Apart from the executive coaching, there is also leadership training which provides the development behavior and skills that are useful for leadership performance and prevention of derailment. The leaders must thus be tested through development assignments as well as leadership challenges to enhance the realization of the training objectives.
To sum up, the leadership derailment is a vice and has serious consequences for organizations, individual, and other people out an organization. It causes are known. Also, the derailment correlation with the leadership styles and leaders traits is as well known. Thus, organization and other stakeholders involved should devote their time to ensure that they apply appropriate strategy to mitigate and prevent leadership derailment. More studies should also be conducted about the topic to reveal hidden information such as the reasons for the existence of links derailment and leadership styles and traits of leaders.
Inyang, B. J. (2013). Exploring the concept of leadership derailment: Defining new research agenda. International Journal of Business and Management, 8(16), 78-85.
Braddy, P. W., Gooty, J., Fleenor, J. W., & Yammarino, F. J. (2014). Leader behaviors and career derailment potential: A multi-analytic method examination of rating source and self–other agreement. The Leadership Quarterly, 25(2), 373-390.
Einarsen, S., Aasland, M. S., & Skogstad, A. (2007). Destructive leadership behaviour: A definition and conceptual model. The Leadership Quarterly, 18(3), 207-216.
Beycioglu, K. (Ed.). (2014). Multidimensional perspectives on principal leadership effectiveness. IGI Global.
Bogue, G. E. (2010). Leadership legacy moments: Visions and values for stewards of collegiate mission. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Westerlaken, K. M., & Woods, P. R. (2013). The relationship between psychopathy and the Full Range Leadership Model. Personality and Individual Differences, 54(1), 41-46.
Van Den Broeck, H., & Venter, D. (2011). Beyonders: transcending average leadership. Lannoo Meulenhoff-Belgium.
Hogan, J., Hogan, R., & Kaiser, R. B. (2010). Management derailment. APA handbook of industrial and organizational psychology, 3, 555-575.
Harms, P. D., Spain, S. M., & Hannah, S. T. (2011). Leader development and the dark side of personality. The Leadership Quarterly, 22(3), 495-509.
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