Critical Perspectives on Leadership

Critical Perspectives on Leadership

Emotion, Toxicity, and Dysfunction

New Horizons in Leadership Studies series

Edited by Jeanette Lemmergaard and Sara Louise Muhr

Situated in the field of critical leadership studies, the chapters of this book set out to challenge the general assumption that emotionality is the antithesis of rationality. The authors expand upon the existing discussions of leadership emotions and reveal how toxicity and dysfunctionality are not merely simple, negatively coercive, or repressive phenomena, but can also have productive and enabling connotations. The book includes comprehensive overviews of traditional leadership thinking and in addition provides readers with critical reflections on concepts such as ignorance, authenticity, functional stupidity and vanity in leadership.

Chapter 4: Do it my way: a study on type, leadership and emotions

Jeanette Lemmergaard and Clare Howard

Subjects: business and management, organisation studies, politics and public policy, leadership


Research continues to confirm that the model of management and leadership prevalent across Western organizations is heavily biased towards individuals who show personal preferences for logical, solution- centred and goal-driven achievement (Kroeger et al. 2002; Blass and Hackston 2008). Despite the fact that there is a growing interest in, for example, work–life balance, emotional intelligence and spirituality in the workplace (Fineman 2000; Adams 2005; Ashkanasy and Cooper 2008; Case and Gosling 2010) the vast majority of research is still missing voices on alternative decision-making preferences, for example, those concerned with making decisions based on people-centred values and emotions. The literature on values and emotions that do exist seems mainly to revolve around aggression, violence and ‘warfare’, rather than on care, cooperation and empathy, despite the fact that empathy, for example, is part of our primate heritage (Rehn 2010). Arguing from a socio-historic and psychological perspective, this chapter contributes to and extends the leadership literature by discussing how different leadership repertoires are influenced by personality and how such repertoires influence behaviour and emotions. Building on a combination of quantitative findings on leadership typology and a reconstructed narrative case study, the chapter discusses what is missing, when for example a strong leadership style does not allow other voices to be heard and acted upon, and when the emotional aspect of leadership is not accounted for. The chapter also shows why organizations should resist the temptation to simply clone themselves in hiring and nurturing new personnel.

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