Dark Side Personality and Leader Failure: Impact of Organizational Level on a Curvilinear Relationship based on Multiple Criteria

Date of Completion

January 2011


Psychology, Industrial




Leaders represent a crucial determinant in organizational performance, which makes it vital to study individual differences related to both positive and negative leadership performance. Previous research has suggested that dark side personality traits represent a valuable factor to consider in terms of leadership failure. This study attempted to expand on this relationship by addressing three issues. First, the study focused on a potential curvilinear relationship between individual dark side traits and various measures of performance. Second, organizational level was assessed as a potential boundary condition for the relationship based on the assumed differences in responsibilities and expectations associated with different levels of leadership and how those relate to behavioral tendencies. Finally, similar to organizational practices of utilizing multiple and distinct criteria, the study employed three different measures of performance, which allowed for an assessment of differences in the potential predictive strength of the criterion measures based on differences in dark side personality traits. The hypotheses were tested using a field study based on archival data from a large multinational consumer products organization based in the United States collected in 2008-2010. There was a lack of support for the predicted curvilinear relationship between the dark side personality traits and leader failure as well as the potential role of organizational level serving as a boundary condition in this curvilinear relationship. However, the results did support the differences between criterion measures with 360° feedback ratings having the strongest relationship. Findings are discussed in terms of their potential contribution to current theory and future research in this area. ^