Table of Contents

Extreme Leadership

Extreme Leadership

Leaders, Teams and Situations Outside the Norm

New Horizons in Leadership Studies series

Edited by Cristina M. Giannantonio and Amy E. Hurley-Hanson

Much has been written about how leaders and teams function in traditional business settings, but there is comparatively scant literature on the behaviors of leaders and teams facing extreme situations: that is, situations that fall outside the scope of daily experience. This book presents cases drawn from a diverse set of non-traditional and extreme leadership scenarios, offering a fresh perspective on both leadership research and management practice.

Chapter 14: Extreme leadership as creative leadership: reflections on Francis Ford Coppola in The Godfather

Charalampos Mainemelis and Olga Epitropaki

Subjects: politics and public policy, leadership


How do extreme leadership situations arise? According to one view, they are triggered by environmental factors that have nothing or little to do with the leader. The term ‘extreme’ in that case refers to some form of external adversity, such as environmental perils (for example, physical disasters, financial crises) or other external threats deeply embedded in the context of specific types of organizations (for example, the military, law enforcement, crisis response units and so on). In such settings, the role of leadership is mainly viewed as reactive to the extreme contextual conditions. Leaders respond to externally induced crises and attempt to handle them in the most effective way possible (for example, Hannah et al., 2009). According to a second view, extreme leadership situations are triggered by leader behaviors that have nothing or little to do with the external environment. The term ‘extreme’ in that case refers to severe group dynamics directly caused by the actions of the leader. Past research has linked leader-induced extreme situations to dysfunctional leader behaviors such as abusive (Aryee et al., 2007), toxic (Lipman-Blumen, 2005) and destructive leadership (Einarsen et al., 2007).In this chapter we offer a third view which focuses on extreme leadership situations that arise from the leader–context interaction, rather than from the environment or from the leader alone.

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