Dark Leadership: The Role of Leaders’ Dark Triad Personality Traits

  • Marco R. FurtnerEmail author
  • Thomas Maran
  • John F. Rauthmann
Part of the Annals of Theoretical Psychology book series (AOTP, volume 15)


For a long time, leadership research has focused too much on idealized, romantic, and “good” forms of leadership (e.g., transformational, empowering, authentic, and ethical leadership), but neglected the antagonistic part: the dark side of leadership. Current personality and leadership literature suggests that, due to their high need for power and social dominance orientation, a variety of dark triad personalities (narcissists, Machiavellians, and psychopaths) can be found in leadership positions. Accordingly, dark leadership reflects a part of leadership reality. Nevertheless, the dark side of leadership is still relatively understudied. This chapter combines dark triad personality with dark leadership research to describe narcissistic, Machiavellian, and psychopathic leadership. Additionally, the role of the dark triad in leader development is described. Dark leaders may be selfish, impulsive, exploitative, and toxic but still be as effective or successful as prosocial, self-controlled, and “good” leaders. The focus on leaders’ dark traits and leadership could improve our understanding of the complex, dynamic, and challenging field of leadership research. Thus, knowledge on the strengths and weaknesses of the dark triad can be utilized in leader development.


Personality Leader Development Dark triad Narcissism Machiavellian Psychopathy 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marco R. Furtner
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Thomas Maran
    • 1
    • 3
  • John F. Rauthmann
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Leopold-Franzens University of InnsbruckInnsbruckAustria
  2. 2.University of LiechtensteinVaduzLiechtenstein
  3. 3.Alps Adria University of KlagenfurtKlagenfurt am WörtherseeAustria
  4. 4.Humboldt-University of BerlinBerlinGermany
  5. 5.Wake Forest UniversityWinston-SalemUSA

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