Exploring the Concept of Leadership Derailment: Defining New Research Agenda

  •  Benjamin Inyang    


Leadership is a process of influencing people to work towards the attainment of organisational goals. For manydecades leadership research tended to take a one-sided view, emphasizing the positive and constructive aspectsand very little written about the dark side of leadership – leadership derailment. The recent corporate failuresand scandals and the 2008 economic crises were not unconnected with leadership failures. A consideration of thedark side of leadership is likely to increase our knowledge and ability to develop effective leaders needed for thetwenty-first century. The paper seeks to explore the dark side of leadership as an important aspect of the totalleadership concept; to identify the causes, consequences of and strategies for managing derailment; and to definethe direction of research agenda in this relatively unexplored area. The paper adopted a qualitative surveymethod and this facilitates in-depth, critical and contextual analysis of available mainstream literature. A reviewof the paltry literature provided the basis for defining the research agenda for the dark side of leadership.Leadership derailment was found to be pervasive in organisations and this arose from leadership, followershipand situational/environmental factors. The observed consequences included; low staff morale, low productivity,inhibition of leader’s career progression and loss of organisational reputation. Remedies advocated to avoidingleadership derailment included: executive coaching, development assignments, systematic feedback andself-awareness, among others.

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