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

Part of the Annals of Theoretical Psychology book series (AOTP,volume 15)

Abstract

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.

Keywords

  • Personality
  • Leader
  • Development
  • Dark triad
  • Narcissism
  • Machiavellian
  • Psychopathy

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Correspondence to Marco R. Furtner Ph.D. .

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Furtner, M.R., Maran, T., Rauthmann, J.F. (2017). Dark Leadership: The Role of Leaders’ Dark Triad Personality Traits. In: Clark, M., Gruber, C. (eds) Leader Development Deconstructed . Annals of Theoretical Psychology, vol 15. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-64740-1_4

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