The Influence of Negative Leadership on the Workplace


Leadership has a wide array of definitions varying from one professional field to another. It is hard to say the overall and core depiction of administration. However, all terms determine and serve one function, which is the productive ability of organization’s management to set ambitious and challenging tasks/goals, encouragement and promotion for the company to perform these aims successfully. For instance, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) defines leadership as the process of influencing others to gain their willing consent in the noble pursuit of missions.[1]

Primarily, leadership contrasts with power or authority, though these words are a bit different from each other. Power and influence can lead to arrogance, misconduct, or subconscious mistakes. Unlike them, leadership implies ‘leading,’ i.e., guiding to the right path. As a result, scientists divide it into two streams: positive and negative leadership. Indeed, a significant bulk of empirical evidence consists of a positive leader’s behavior. The variety of studies and articles focuses on positive solutions and their consequences for an organization. Positive leaders do not give up, address their issues, and fake their positivity to create a high functioning within the company.2 It is quite logical discussing and suggesting positive ways and sides to build effective management, because everybody focuses on positive things and how to implement them to enhance and keep the company alive and prosperous. Admittedly, various prerequisites and circumstances might lead to negative leadership; it can something historical, personal, unexpected situations, etc.[2] Therefore, it is crucial to go through details and survey the core value of leadership within a specific association. The general data and outcomes cannot be suitable for every company; thus any workplace is worth investigating and analyzing correctly. 

Negative Leadership

While it has been argued that negative leadership is not, by definition, a form of leadership, it would be unwise to ignore the topic on this basis.2 Also, there is now the upsurge of significant evidence on negative direction. Negative leadership occurs when a leader starts ignoring apparent dysfunction, misuse effective management, and neglect their power and ability to complete challenging goals and reach favorable outcomes. In the past, negative leadership was defined as ‘toxic,’ which mainly focused on a primarily ego driven style of leader.[3]

A workplace is unique and requests a particular set of methods, systems, and strategies. Hence, a bad leader gradually breaks these tough walls through arrogance, negligence, and misuse.[4] A workplace is unique and requests a particular set of methods, systems, and strategies. Hence, a bad leader gradually breaks these tough walls through arrogance, negligence, and misuse.  Additionally, such a leader is called an unethical leader since he/she loses control due to the failure of personal ethics. The genuinely immoral leader is the person who knows something is ethically wrong but goes ahead with an adverse decision. Ethical wisdom should be the number one priority because a good leader will address strategic issues, deal with potential risks, and pay close attention to flaws rather than avoid dysfunction in every sector.1

Binskin (cf. Chief of the Defence Force) acknowledges that there three types of negative leaders causing mishaps and troubles to the overall system within the company:3

  • Organization over people. It implies that a leader prefers company than people, which is a negative factor. The personnel plays a significant role in the working structure and its performance, so negligence of people is bound to lead to negative consequences. Without appropriate behavior and prioritizing of employees can be tremendous for the firm in general.
  • People over the organization. Such leaders take on personal board communication rather than fulfilling own role. Leaders should not forget the importance of their command and influence which should embrace both organization and people (i.e., without preferring only one option).
  • None of these. There is no coherence between leaders and people or organization. They take accomplishments and rewards instead of them, ignore visible and secret matters, and become a tyrant in everything.

It is essential to concede that leadership has different shapes applied to a specific workplace. Some organizations, such as a military environment, require more attention, strategy, power, and influence.1 Indeed, business field is also worth following and toughening, but military actions are of importance. A good leader (e.g., during WWI or WWII) should have known how to command and lead his soldiers through frightening moments of their lives. Good military leaders put the needs of the mission and the concerns of subordinates before their own needs and concerns.3

The same rule can be applied to air force since it requires a catchy eye and strict personality. No one wants to face a plan crush or to fall apart during a pleasant trip to the seaside. Thus air force leaders should take into account all the ins and outs of strategic planning and efficient system to perform their work on the top of the range.

Furthermore, political leaders play a significant role in leadership’s performance since they are in charge of the entire country. Not all presidents are leaders, and not all leaders are the presidents. It is crucial to grasp the importance of a politician to make rigorous orders, be attentive in every small matter, lead the nation to prosperity and great welfare, and prioritize everything at once. Therefore, leadership function, behaviors, and ethical consideration should be placed at the forefront so that leadership misconduct will not be even in anyone’s mindset.[5]

Influence on the workplace

Even if the organization has created an excellent strategic plan, the leader will manage its deployment, livelihood, and support. It is the critical element that will either support the strategy and move the organization forward or destroy the policy and, possibly, lead to the death of the organization by changing priorities and uncertainty in the direction of the movement.[6] Deceiving the whole organization, an excellent chance to apply one’s intellect, skills, and energy in defining and achieving goals and objectives, a bad leader, can turn strategic planning into a waste of time.

Negative leadership does not occur overnight. It takes a while to destroy leadership affecting the entire system and strategy within the organization. Ruthless disregard for the rules, an astounding willingness to dupe customers or an amazing lack of caring for customers are the major factors of a ‘toxic’ leader.[7] Today a wide array of worldwide companies faces challenging struggles and unstable state of the company due to various reasons which are caused by negative leadership. Unfortunately, a lot of organizations are currently showing the lack of ownership, negligence of power, influence, and authority along with misguidance and low company performance. Generally, there are several outcomes after dysfunction of leadership and its influence on the workplace:

  • Lack of direction/transparency. Sometimes leaders forget to pay attention and take into account essential events and options to direct people and observe their work. A poor direction shows a so-called ‘liberal state’ where everybody can do anything they want. It implies that independent management is the chief circumstance due to negative leadership.
  • Lack of coordination. Previously, it has been noted that there are three types of bad leader. Such types can present poor coordination and performance since a leader either prefers organization than people or the opposite. The company is unlikely to grow and prosper without one such component. Coordination in organization and teamwork are significant, and a leader should make one’s mind about this concern. How can an organization succeed with dismissive attitude? In other words, a negative leader can actively do things that undermine the integrity of their organization or the wellbeing of their people.3
  • Negative workplace environment. Indeed, an unethical leader misusing his/her duties and authority will ruin the company in a blink of an eye. People affected by the lack of high morale, ownership, and persistence will create a negative atmosphere around themselves.[8] Consequently, the workplace will gradually lose its value.
  • Failure to be responsible. A leader is not a person who was selected by someone for good-looking or wealth. A leader should be chosen by focusing on his/her ethics, behaviors, goals, and the ability to control any uncertain situation. The refusal of being responsible creates a high risk of leadership misconduct.

Mishaps may occur anytime, though a good leader should be ready to meet them rather than avoid. For instance, ADF has a little bulk of evidence about negative leadership, though they still have own mistakes and misunderstanding about some management system. Taking into account ADF, they worked out on a useful framework, i.e., Defence Leadership Framework.[9] It indicates the generic capabilities, proficiencies and associated behaviors for Defence employees — civilian and military.2 The DLF is constructed around five major capability areas: results, relationships, personal drive and integrity, communication and strategic thinking.2 It is crucial to understand the DLF to apply rules and techniques to the entire organization.

The same rule should be applied to any workplace suffering from a risk of negative leadership. The impact of such leadership will only grow over time without sorting out this matter. A leader should realize the importance of guiding, ownership, responsibility within a company because the negative administration will end the organization forever.[10]


Ultimately, negative leadership is like a broken vase. One can mend a vase with glue broken pieces together, but it will not be as ideal as before. Unethical leadership springs unfavorable outcomes both to organization and people. It is easier to improve current administration than eliminate negative one.

Since various workplaces are worth examining and analyzing based on own circumstances, importance, and responsibility level, it is hard to state the real results. Negative leadership significantly influences the entire organizational system, and sometimes there is no exit or solution to alter it. Therefore, it is essential for a leader to think over the ins and outs, and take the responsibility and persistence to enhance their kingdom once and for all.

[1] ADF, 5

[2] Gordon, The Power of Positive Leadership: How and Why Positive Leaders Transform Teams and Organizations and Change the World, 17

[3] Binskin, Leadership, 2

[4] Schyns et al., When Leadership Goes Wrong: Destructive Leadership, Mistakes, and Ethical Failures, 24

[5] Munroe, The Power of Character in Leadership: How Values, Morals, Ethics, and Principles Affect Leaders, 51

[6] Manning et al., The Art of Leadership, 37

[7] Goyne et al., Negative Leadership. Breaking Point: Antecedents to Change in the Australian Defence Force, 3

[8] Loftus, The Bad Leadership All Stars Of 2016, 1

[9] Australian Government, 6

[10] The Royal Australian Air Force, 57


“Leadership Companion. Character, Professional Ethics, Followership and Leadership.” The Royal Australian Air Force, 2013.

“Leadership Module Study Guide.” The Royal Australian Air Force, 2017.

“The Defence Leadership Framework.” Australian Government: Department of Defence, 2010.

Binskin. Leadership. Australian Defence Doctrine Publication (ADDP), 2017.

Gordon, J. The Power of Positive Leadership: How and Why Positive Leaders Transform Teams and Organizations and Change the World. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2017.

Goyne, A. et al. Negative Leadership. Breaking Point:  Antecedents to Change in the Australian Defence Force.Australian Defence College, 2016.

Loftus, G. “The Bad Leadership All Stars Of 2016.” Forbes, 2016. Accessed Sep. 7, 2018.

Manning, G. &  Curtis, K. The Art of Leadership (4th edition). New York City, NY: McGraw-Hill Education, 2011.

Munroe, M. The Power of Character in Leadership: How Values, Morals, Ethics, and Principles Affect Leaders. New Kensigton, PA: Whitaker House, 2017.

Schyns, B. & Hansbrough, T. When Leadership Goes Wrong: Destructive Leadership, Mistakes, and Ethical Failures. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishin, 2010.

The terms offer and acceptance. (2016, May 17). Retrieved from

[Accessed: May 6, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016.

[Accessed: May 6, 2021] (2016) The terms offer and acceptance [Online].
Available at:

[Accessed: May 6, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: May 6, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: May 6, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: May 6, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: May 6, 2021]
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